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fU8UC DOCUMENTS 

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JUL 30 1993 Historic Resource Study 

El Presidio de San Francisco 

A HttWWfhder Spain and Mexico, 1776-1846 




Presidio of San Francisco 

GOLDEN GATE 

National Recreation Area • California 




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Printed on Recycled Paper 



Historic Resource Study 

El Presidio de San Francisco 

A History under Spain and Mexico, 1776-1846 

August 1992 



John Phillip Langelier 
Daniel Bernard Rosen 



Presidio of San Francisco 

GOLDEN GATE 

National Recreation Area • California 



United States Department of the Interior • National Park Service • Denver Service Center 



TO THE MEMORY OF CHARLES S. HAWKINS 



All the historical books which contain no lies are extremely tedious. 

Anatole France 



CONTENTS 

LIST OF FIGURES iv 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS vii 

PROLOGUE ix 

CHAPTER 1, CERTAIN SIGN OF DEFENSE, 1769-1790 1 

CHAPTER 2, THE APPEARANCE OF DURABILITY, 1791-1800 29 

CHAPTER 3, WEAK AS THE SPANISH DEFENSES ARE, 1801-1822 73 

CHAPTER 4, A SICKLY COLUMN OF SMOKE RISING FROM SOME DILAPIDATED 
WALLS: THE MEXICAN REGIME, 1822-1846 103 

EPILOGUE 125 

CONCLUSIONS 135 

RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE PLANNING 137 

APPENDIXES 149 

APPENDIX A, COMMANDERS AND ACTING COMMANDERS OF THE 

PRESIDIO, 1776-1846 151 
APPENDIX B, INHABITANTS OF THE PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO 

DECEMBER 31, 1776 152 
APPENDIX C, COMPARATIVE INFORMATION FOR TYPICAL TROOP 

STRENGTHS AND ROSTERS UNDER SPAIN, 1787-1819 155 
APPENDIX D, NATIVE PLANT SPECIES IDENTIFIED AT THE PRESIDIO OF SAN 

FRANCISCO DURING THE SPANISH AND MEXICAN PERIODS OF 

OCCUPATION 160 

GLOSSARY 163 
BIBLIOGRAPHY 167 



in 



LIST OF FIGURES 



Figure 1. "The Plan of the Great Port of San Francisco," prepared by Manuel Villavicencio 

relying upon Jose de Cahizares's 1775 chart of the Bay Area. 7 
Figure 2. Padre Pedro Font's 1776 map of the route taken by Juan Bautista de Anza's advance 

party in March 1776 includes the Cantil Blanco [A], the site first selected for the Presidio 

of San Francisco, and Mountain Lake [B], traditionally considered as the campsite for this 

exploration party. 8 
Figure 3. According to Palou's Historical Memoirs, Vol. rv, 124, Jose Joaquin Moraga, 

possibly with the aid of Jose de Cahizares, made a plan of the new post 14 
Figure 4. Acting Commandant Hermenegildo Sal sent a plan of the Presidio with a report 

to Governor Jose Antonio Romeu on March 4, 1792 32 
Figures 5-6. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the blue uniforms with 

yellow facings of the Catalonian Volunteers (top left) resembled those of the 

traditional European infantry of their era, as did the blue uniform with red facings 

of the artillerymen (top right) assigned to the castillo. Museo del Ejercito, Madrid 50 
Figure 7. In contrast, soldados de cuera, shown in this 1804 illustration with the chupa, 

botas, and large spurs, departed from Old World fashion of the period 51 
Figures 8-10. A lanza (lance) blade, ornate red with green trim waist-mounted caja de 

cartuchos (cartridge box), and a pistola typify some of the items carried by the soldados 

de cuera in the late 1700s and early 1800s 52 
Figure 11. Examples of a lance head, an adarga, two escopetas, an espada ancha, and a bota 

are depicted in this exhibit as representative of the weapons carried in the 18th 

through 19th centuries by soldiers throughout the Spanish borderlands. 53 
Figures 12-13. Spanish army engineer Alberto de Cordova executed two drawings related 

to the Castillo de San Joaquin, one of which provided a cross section of the Cantil 

Blanco and the other of which provided one of the most concise views of this 

approximately 40 varas by 60 varas emplacement 60 
Figures 14-15. In the 1790s, a proposed relocation of the Presidio toward the entrance of 

the bay brought about the drafting of two new plans for the facility, neither of which 

actually were constructed 70 
Figure 16. The first known work of art to provide an elevation of the Presidio of San 

Francisco appeared in 1806, based upon the earliest Russian visits to the port 83 
Figure 17. After a major rebuilding of the castillo, in the late Spanish period, the fort took 

on a new horseshoe shape 92 
Figure 18. According to Kotzebue, as quoted in Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," 65, Louis 

Choris occupied himself on October 5, 1816 at painting 96 
Figure 19. The files of Edward Vischer (1808-1878), a pioneer in the study of the missions 

and presidios of Alta California, included this diagram of the Presidio of San 

Francisco in 1820 104 
Figure 20. An 1839 map by Smith Elder of London, possibly based on Beechey's 1829 

map, indicated the Presidio, the fort (castillo), roads, and a pair of outbuildings 

toward El Polin Spring 112 
Figure 21. Looking far from the northeast toward the Presidio and the Golden Gate, 

Captain W. Smyth of the Royal Navy gave a less detailed perspective of the post 

than his shipmate Richard Beechey 114 
Figure 22. In 1843, Swedish visitor G. M. Waseurtz af Sandels, who referred to himself 

as "The King's Orphan," made two crude illustrations of "The Military Barracks of 



IV 



Sn. Francisco in California" and an "Original Pencil Sketch of the Fort and Port of 

San Francisco in California." 122 
Figure 23. The U.S. Army incorporated the remaining adobes of the Presidio of San 

Francisco into the early post as indicated by this circa 1855 illustration of the garrison 

in The Annals of San Francisco. 131 
Figure 24. The "south" adobe (now the Officers' Club) was illustrated in Outline 

Descriptions Military Posts in the Military Division of the Pacific, 1879, thereby providing 

a good indication of the structure's relatively unaltered exterior, which probably was 

not unlike its appearance in the late Spanish through the Mexican periods of 

occupation. 132 
Figure 25. A few scattered adobes remained west of the present-day Officers' Club 

through the earthquake of 1906, then were demolished by the Army. 133 
Figure 26. C. St. Croix's 1939 survey of the Presidio of San Francisco's "Original 

Boundary" indicated that the northern portion of the quadrangle extended far 

beyond the markers erected to set off the northwest and northeast corners of the 

outpost. 137 
Figure 27. According to G.W. Hendry and J.N. Bowman, the first and second Presidio of 

San Francisco may have stood near or formed part of the site of the Presidio as 

described in 1792. 138 
Figure 28. Volume IX of Hendry and Bowman also provided a larger scale map 

indicating their conclusions for probable placements of some of the other cultural 

features of the Presidio of San Francisco during the Spanish and Mexican periods of 

occupation. 140 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/historyresourcesOOIang 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



This study represents the culmination of research that began over 30 years ago. The resulting 
manuscript, however, only became possible because of considerable support and resources 
made available by many individuals and institutions. 

First of all, the Spanish and Mexican officials, who labored to make multiple copies of reports 
and correspondence to their respective home governments and did so without adequate 
assistance due to widespread illiteracy during the era, provided the basic data on which this 
project was based. Given the many drawbacks of living at the far end of the realm which they 
served, their writings did not always provide in-depth information. Nevertheless, the 
remaining records offer a tantalizing picture of the precarious existence of a frontier outpost. 
In many cases, the documents these officials produced are all that present-day researchers 
have to draw upon because inspectors and other visiting government agents from the central 
seats of power rarely saw fit to venture to Alta California in general and the Bay Area in 
particular. 

Fortunately, visitors from Russia, France, Great Britain, the United States, and elsewhere 
occasionally landed, leaving behind mixed descriptions of what they saw. All too often, these 
outsiders made only brief statements about the physical conditions at the Presidio of San 
Francisco, dwelling instead on the lack of defenses for the great harbor of St. Francis, thereby 
implying the relative ease with which their own nations could seize the prize. Moreover, 
ethnocentricity regularly slanted their perceptions, to the point that some may have felt it 
unimportant to detail the "mean surroundings" they found in the Bay Area. 

All this aside, a body of information survived to provide glimpses of the Presidio of San 
Francisco as it evolved during its first half century. Much of the material that exists can be 
found in the fine collections of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. 
There numerous original documents, illustrations, and manuscripts, along with published 
firsthand accounts and copies of original materials lost in the 1906 earthquake and fire can 
be found, making it the single most important facility in terms of this study. In addition, 
microfilm from archives in Spain and Mexico rounds out the holdings, all of which were 
made available over the years by a highly professional and considerate staff. 

Likewise, the California Historical Society's Library and the Society of California Pioneers' 
Library, both in San Francisco, provided some key items that were not held by the Bancroft. 
At the California State Library in Sacramento Gary Kurutz showed his usual dedication and 
enthusiasm, as did Kevin Mulroy and the staff of the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum 
in Los Angeles. Finally, the capable personnel of the Huntington Library in San Marino, 
California, extended every courtesy, and the University of Texas Library at Austin offered 
reference services. 

Likewise, individuals who provided various support should be mentioned. For example, the 
former consul general of Spain in San Francisco, Jose Urbina, contacted institutions in his 
country so that copies of important materials might be made. While completing her doctorate 
in Albuquerque, Dr. Salome Hernandez took time out of her busy schedule to translate a 
lengthy, important document on the Castillo de San Joaquin and read microfilm materials 
from Spain that were in the University of New Mexico Library. Dr. Eric Beerman found some 



vu 



hitherto unknown references and a diagram of that same coastal battery, El Castillo, in Spain 
and graciously shared the fruits of his discovery. Similarly, Dr. Joseph Sanchez, the director 
of the National Park Service's Spanish Colonial Research Center in Santa Fe, copied the 1776 
plan of the Presidio. 

Numerous other National Park Service members added comments and suggestions that 
improved the present version of this document. First of all, Gordon Chappell, the Western 
Regional historian, carefully reviewed this manuscript and saw to it that the comments of 
many of his colleagues were gathered to assist in the revision. In many respects, he served 
as the "godfather" for the study. Dr. Roger Kelly, Western Regional archeologist, and Diane 
Nicholson, former Western Regional curator and present Golden Gate National Recreation 
Area curator, raised issues of import. Stephen Haller, Golden Gate National Recreation Area 
curator of historic documents, clarified questions about the ship San Carlos. Leo Barker, 
historical archeologist for the National Park Service Western Regional Interagency 
Archeological Division, provided much encouragement. Thanks are also due to the National 
Park Service Presidio Planning Team, including Roger Brown, Carey Ferirabend, and Frank 
Williss. Throughout the process, C. Craig Frazier of the Denver Service Center facilitated the 
work in many ways. 

At the Presidio itself, Colonel Milton B. Halsey, Jr. of the Fort Point and Army Museum 
Association, along with Presidio Army Museum director, Herbert Garcia, and staff member, 
J. Edward Green, did everything possible to assist this undertaking. In particular, Mr. Garcia's 
careful reading ensured the accuracy of the manuscript's citations. Likewise, Roger Rhems, 
a member of "Los Californianos," extended many kindnesses. 

Last, colleagues from the Architectural Resource Group, most notably Stephen Farneth and 
Cathleen Malmstrom, were kind enough to invite us to work with their fine interdisciplinary 
organization. We appreciate this opportunity and hope that all those who participated in this 
project will be satisfied with the product. 



John Phillip Langellier and Daniel Bernard Rosen 

June 26, 1991 



Vlll 



PROLOGUE 



At least some 1,500 years ago humans began to inhabit the area surrounding San Francisco 
Bay. One of the region's earliest inhabitants, the Ohlone, for whom considerable ethnographic 
information exists, formed at least eight major subdivisions. Each of the groups had "separate 
languages, as different from one another as Spanish and English." 1 Evidently, they had no 
common name for themselves, but "the label Costanoan had its roots in Spanish history [the 
term being taken from Costanos or coast people] and has long since established itself as a 
recognized language family." 2 More recently, "Ohlone" has been applied to the Costanoan. 
Descendants of this group tend to prefer the newer reference. 

In those earlier times, however, when the people had no commonly accepted single name, 
language, custom, and outer appearance nonetheless reflected their ties. In the last mentioned 
category, men and boys commonly went about naked while a grass or tule apron, which 
covered the front and back below the waist, constituted the clothing for women. When the 
weather dictated, capes or cloaks fashioned from water fowl feathers or from deer, rabbit, or 
sea-mammal skins provided protection. 3 Even mud occasionally served "as insulation from 
the cold...." 4 

The Ohlone regularly walked barefoot and without head coverings, except on ceremonial 
occasions. Paint and tattoos provided decoration and clan affiliation, the former applied in 
patterns that made it appear as if the people wore striped tights as can be seen in the early 
19th-century paintings by Louis Choris. Pierced ears could be adorned with beads, feathers, 
flowers, or grass while pierced nasal septums might hold a small bone, although the custom 
was not universal and seemed to apply only to men. Both sexes often added necklaces of 
beads, feathers, and shells (abalone and olivella) to their wardrobe. 

For shelter, poles bent into a conical shape and covered in brush or tule sufficed. 
Occasionally, split redwood or redwood bark constituted the basic construction material. The 
building of balsas was another use for tule. Double-blade paddles moved these light craft 
through the water. 

These people produced other items as well. Baskets, frequently embellished with beads, 
feathers, and mother-of-pearl were typical. Wild onion or soap-plant root brushes, mollusk 
shell spoons, wooden stirring paddles, and various stone implements made many daily chores 



1 . Kathryn M. Lang, "Golden Gate National Recreation Area: The Indian and Hispanic Heritage of a Modern 
Urban Park" (typescript, National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, 1979), 3. 

2. Ibid., 7. 

3. An early Franciscan missionary noted many of the Costanoan men were bald and bearded and made "a habit 
of pulling out the hair of their eyebrows by the roots...." The same source also mentioned observing capes of 
beaver skins and pelican feathers for the men and "plaited tules" skirts for the women, "for very few skins of 
animals are seen among them." Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed., Historical Memoirs of New California by Fray Francisco 
Palou, OJM. (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1926), vol. IV, 121. 

4. Lang, "Golden Gate National Recreation Area," 11. 

ix 



possible. Both self-bows and sinew-backed versions launched arrows with bone and stone 
tips. 5 

As with other material things, the Ohlone depended on nearby natural resources for food. The 
ubiquitous acorn, available from several types of live oak, served as the basis for flour to 
make mush and a form of bread. Other seeds could be roasted and ground into meal too, 
with chia, digger pine, and holly-leaf cherry offering other forms of subsistence, and which, 
according to the early missionary, Francisco Palou, could be made into "a sort of dumpling, 
ball-shaped and the size of an orange, which was very rich and savory, like toasted 
almonds." 6 Strawberries, manzanita berries, and the Christmas or toyon berry offered other 
treats in season. Roots, including "amole" (soap-plant root or Chlorogalum), along with wild 
carrots, onions, and the herb chuchupate, could be obtained too. 

Besides plant matter, dog, grizzly bear, mole, mountain lion, mouse, rabbit, raccoon, skunk, 
and squirrel could be taken on land, with snares serving to catch the smaller creatures. The 
Ohlone likewise hunted deer and did so with deer head masks as disguises. They took seals 
too, although the means of hunting these mammals is uncertain. Quail, hawks, doves, ducks, 
and geese could be had with nets and traps, depending on the type of bird. Nets also brought 
in sturgeon and salmon. Shellfish, most notably abalone, clams, and mussels, offered fine fare 
when gathered from December through April when they were safe to consume. Shark, 
swordfish, and other saltwater species may have been killed with spears or taken by hook 
and line. Occasionally, when a whale washed ashore, the Ohlone held a feast of this specially 
prized meat. 

The Ohlone considered certain food taboo for new mothers who therefore abstained from 
meat, fish, salt, and cold water for a number of days after giving birth. As young adolescents, 
females observed these same dietary restrictions. Evidently, they observed some sort of 
puberty rite too, while males celebrated their entry into manhood by induction into a "datura" 
society. 

Once of age, a young man might take a wife. He and his relatives provided a gift to the 
bride's family. Then, the couple started their life together with no further formalities. Padre 
Palou observed many of the couples living "in the most perfect union and peacefulness, 
loving their children dearly, as the children their parents." 7 In the event two people chose 
to end a relationship, they simply separated. Evidently, the children remained with the wife. 

In the main, the Ohlone made contact with Europeans in the late 1 8th century and soon 
thereafter provided the population required for the establishment of several Spanish missions 



5. Robert F. Heizer and Adan E. Treganza, Mines and Quarries of the Indians of California (Ramona, Calif.: Ballerta 
Press, 1972), provides more details about sources of materials for stone implement making. 

6. Fray Francisco Palou, "The Founding of the Presidio and Mission of Our Father St. Francis," George Ezra Dane, 
trans. XIV California Historical Society Quarterly no. 2 (June 1935): 119. 

7. Palou, "The Founding of the Presidio," 120. Palou was not the only missionary to provide important 
commentary about early California Indians. Many of the other padres did so, as found in Maynard Geiger and 
Clement W. Meighan, As the Padres Saw Them: California Indian Life and Customs as Reported by the Franciscan 
Missionaries 1813-1815 (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Santa Barbara Mission Archives, 1976). 



founded to the south of the Golden Gate. 8 They also served as a labor force for the Hispanic 
military who came to the region in 1776. This contact ultimately contributed to the rapid and 
widespread decline of the people who first ranged over the San Francisco Peninsula as disease 
and other factors led to the devastation of this Native American group's once vital culture. 9 



8. The northern Ohlone could be found at Missions San Francisco Assis, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz, 
and the southern Ohlone made up the main numbers at San Juan Bautista, Soledad, and San Carlos. Here, as 
elsewhere throughout New Spain, the mission, a key colonial institution sanctioned by the Spanish sovereigns to 
deal with the native people, "had three fundamental purposes. They desired to convert him, to civilize him, and 
to exploit him." Herbert Eugene Bolton, "The Mission as a Frontier Institution in the Spanish American Colonies," 
as reprinted in John Francis Bannon, ed., Bolton and the Spanish Borderlands (Norman, Okla.: University of 
Oklahoma Press, 1974), 190. For more on certain aspects of native activities at this combined religious and civil 
complex see Edith Buckland Webb, Indian Life at the Old Missions (Los Angeles, Calif.: Warren F. Lewis, Publisher, 
1952). 

9. For further information on the Ohlone consult Malcolm Margolin, The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San 
Francisco-Monterey Bay Area (Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday Books, 1978) and Richard Levy, "Costanoan," in Handbook 
of North American Indians, vol. VIII, California, Robert F. Heizer, ed. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 
1978), 485-95. Also see Robert F. Heizer, Karen M. Nissen, and Edward D. Castillo, California Indian History: A 
Classified and Annotated Guide to Source Materials (Ramona, Calif.: Ballena Press, 1975), for additional references. 



XI 



CHAPTER 1 
CERTAIN SIGN OF DEFENSE, 1769-1790 



For some seven centuries the Iberian Peninsula witnessed a long struggle between Christians 
and Moslems, which ended with Granada's fall in 1492. The victorious Catholic monarchs, 
Ferdinand and Isabella, not only presided over the conclusion of this final period of the 
reconquista but also became the rulers of one of Europe's first modern nation-states. From this 
power base, they sent out explorers, including the bold mariner Christopher Columbus, in 
search of new lands and converts to Christianity. By the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores 
ranged wide and far in the "New World," carrying the cross of their religion in one hand and 
the sword of their sovereign in the other. 

In the Caribbean, the Floridas, Mexico, Peru, and what was to become the American 
Southwest, the Spaniards established a far-flung empire that eventually ran from the tip of 
Tierra del Fuego to modern Canada. 1 One of the last regions to come under their influence 
was Alta California. Beginning with the 1542 voyage of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's two small 
ships up the Pacific coast, Spain's leaders set in motion the slow process of exploration of the 
area. 

Others continued to report from out to sea about this uncharted territory. Not all these ships 
flew Spain's ensign. For one, Francis Drake would put ashore to repair his vessel during the 
summer of 1579. Some of the Manila galleons also would sail off the coast, including those 
of Francisco de Gali (1584) and Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno (1595). In 1602, after several 
rather haphazard efforts, the government sent out Sebastian Visciano to make a concentrated 
exploration from Cabo San Lucas to Cabo de Mendocino and beyond. Having convinced his 
superiors of the efficacy of such a voyage, Visciano received instructions to carry out his plan. 
On May 5, 1602, his three ships, San Diego, Santo Tomds, and Tres Reyes, left Mexico. By early 
November, the flotilla rode at anchor in a port that they named in honor of San Diego. Then, 
in mid-December, they continued north to Monterey. The subsequent reports exaggerated the 
size and nature of this harbor and caused no little confusion for future expeditions. 2 

In fact, in 1769, another group of Spanish explorers paid the price for this less-than-accurate 
description of Monterey. In that year, the government finally took steps to colonize the coast. 
New Spain's visitador-general, Jose de Galvez, sought a means to increase the crown's 
revenues. 3 Likewise, he advocated a strengthening of defenses against the British and 



1. J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1971), 1- 
10. 

2. Charles E. Chapman, A History of California: The Spanish Period (New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, 
1936), 97-171, provides a useful overview of these early maritime activities related to Alta California. For further 
information also consult Harry Kelsey, ]uan Rodriguez Cabrillo (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1986) and 
W. Michael Mathes, Visciano and Spanish Expansion in the Pacific Ocean, 1580-1630 (San Francisco, Calif.: California 
Historical Society, 1968). 

3. The last and perhaps greatest of the visitadores, or inspectors general, sent out from Madrid, Galvez arrived in 
New Spain in July 1765 and retained his position until 1771. For further information about the influential and 
powerful colonial administrator consult Herbert Ingram Priestly, ]ose de Galvez, Visitor General of New Spain, 1765- 
1771 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1916) and Iris Wilson Engstrand, "Jose de Galvez After 200 

1 



Russians, whose ships plied Pacific waters prior to establishing outposts in Alaska and 
Canada. To these ends, and out of his own political ambitions, the forceful Andalusian 
induced the viceroy (literally vice king) in Mexico City, the Marques Francisco de Croix, a 
colonial official of French descent, to order settlements at San Diego and Monterey. 4 Galvez 
selected fellow peninsular (see the glossary for a definition of this and other terms related to 
ethnicity) Don Gaspar de Portola, then serving as governor of Baja California, to lead the 
undertaking. 5 On July 14, 1769, after establishing a precarious hold in San Diego, Portola took 
a smaller party north in search of Monterey. Overshooting this mark, partially because 
Visciano had described the place so differently, they proceeded much farther, halting south 
of San Francisco Bay. An advance party under Sergeant Jose Ortega, a criollo born in 
Guanajuato in central Mexico who would be destined to serve at the garrisons of San Diego, 
Monterey, and Santa Barbara during his career, reported that they had seen a brazo del mar 
(an arm of the sea) and could make no further advance since this great body of water was 
"a chest with many locks" that blocked their way. 6 While it is not certain that Ortega's group 
actually spied the strait that forms the entrance to today's San Francisco Bay and that now 
bears the name the Golden Gate, the men probably were among the first Europeans to look 
on the waters of the bay. Regardless of who actually "discovered" the prize, this chance 
sighting inspired other expeditions sent by the crown in order to ascertain more about the 
potential of the great "harbor of harbors." 7 



Years: A Retrospective View," in Some California Catholic Reminiscences for the United States Bicentennial (New Haven, 
Conn.: Published for the California Catholic Conference of the Knights of Columbus, 1976), 153-63. 

4. Carlos Francisco de Croix, a knight of the order of Calatrava and a lieutenant general of the royal army, spent 
fifty years in the uniform of the Spanish military. On August 25, 1766, he became the 45th viceroy of New Spain. 
He retained this post until September 22, 1771, when he returned to Spain as a captain-general and viceroy of the 
Kingdom of Valencia. The Marques died at the age of 87, in 1786. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Mexico, 1600- 
1803 vol. Ill (San Francisco, Calif.: A. L. Bancroft & Company, Publishers, 1883), 368-70. 

5. Born around 1717 in Balaguer, a Catalonian city in the province of Lerida, Portola would come to Mexico as 
a captain of the Regiment of Dragoons of New Spain. This was in the year 1764. By 1767, he assumed the 
governorship of Baja California, then took on the post of military commander of the Alta California colonizing 
expedition. Having completed this assignment, he left Pedro Fages as military comandante, sailing away aboard 
San Antonio on July 9, 1770. By 1777 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he became governor of Puebla. In 1785, 
he returned to Spain, where he died on October 10, 1786. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California vol. I (San 
Francisco, Calif.: A.L. Bancroft & Company, Publishers, 1884), 171-72 and Donald A. Nuttall, 'The Gobernantes 
of Spanish Upper California: A Profile," LI California Historical Quarterly no. 3 (Fall 1972): 265-67. 

6. Ortega's summary, made in February 1770, can be found in the Marcellino da Civezza Collection, bundle 203, 
docket 12 (University of Arizona Library, Tucson, University of Arizona microfilm 305). For an English translation 
of this account see Bolton, Historical Memoirs of New California, IV, 286-91. 

7. For more on the topic of who deserved credit for locating the bay's entrance consult Theodore E. Treutlein, San 
Francisco Bay: Discovery and Colonization, 1769-1776 (San Francisco, Calif.: California Historical Society, 1968) and 
Frank M. Stanger and Alan K. Brown, Who Discovered the Golden Gate: The Explorers' Own Accounts (San Mateo, 
Calif.: San Mateo County Historical Society, 1969). It also should be noted that the Spanish had applied the term 
San Francisco to present-day Drake's Bay since Cermeno's time and continued to do so until about 1775 when they 
used that name to identify the great estuary spied by the various land expeditions between 1769 and 1774. Brown, 
Who Discovered the Golden Gate, 10, 24-25. 



The first of these endeavors came in 1770, when Don Pedro Fages, a former member of 
Portola's command, took it upon himself to forge a land route to the "Port of San Francisco." 8 
Leaving Monterey on November 17, 1770, Fages and a handful of lancers, along with some 
muleteers, rode forth to the Santa Clara Valley. From there, they went east, encamping near 
the present city of Alameda. By November 28, the men viewed a large bocana or estuary 
mouth. Not being able to cross to Punta de los Reyes, Fages halted, then made his way back 
to Monterey. 9 

Not until March 1772 did he again turn his efforts toward the north. Once more, Fages took 
six soldiers, a muleteer, an Indian servant, and the Majorcan-born Fray Juan Crespi to gain 
a clearer understanding of the port. 10 From the east bay they saw the Farallons and three 
islets within the harbor that someday would be known as Alcatraz, Angel Island, and Yerba 
Buena. 11 Armed with this added intelligence, Fages's party concluded its journey with a 
report and chart that prompted additional interest in the region. 

For one, Fray Junipero Serra pressed for the establishment of two more missions in the 
vicinity of what came to be called the Port of San Francisco. 12 He personally pled his case 



8. Born in the Villa de Guizona in the early 1730s, Fages entered the Light Infantry of Catalonia as an ensign in 
June 1762. He saw his first action in Portugal, a campaign which both Portola and Felipe de Neve participated in 
before their service in the Californias. After this introduction to the profession of arms as part of the Seven Years' 
War, Fages remained in quiet garrison service in the Old World until May 12, 1767, when as a newly promoted 
lieutenant, he received orders to accompany the Compania Franca de Voluntarios de Cataluna to Mexico. Departing 
later that month in two ships, the entire force sailed for Vera Cruz. After landing, Fages and his men served in 
Mexico, until being called to take a detail to Alta California. When Portola departed, Fages assumed leadership 
from his post at Monterey. He remained in control from July 1770 through May 1774, most of which time he spent 
in conflict with Padre Junipero Serra. 

Returning as a captain to Mexico, he prepared his Noticia del Estado que Guardan Las Misiones de Monterey y 
California, thereby establishing himself as one of the first authors to write extensively on the region. By 1776, Fages 
took command of the Second Company of Catalonian Volunteers, then stationed in Guadalajara. Later, he 
participated in a number of campaigns and assignments. In 1782, as part of a punitive expedition related to the 
Yuma uprising, in which his compatriot Fernando Rivera y Moncada died, Fages left New Spain and then came 
back to California. In 1783, he replaced Neve as governor, a post he held until April 16, 1791. Now as a colonel, 
Fages proceeded to Mexico City where he lived out his final years until passing away in 1794. Donald A. Nuttall, 
"Lights Cast Upon Shadows: The Non-California Years of Don Pedro Fages," LVI California Historical Society 
Quarterly no. 3 (Fall 1977): 251-69 and Ronald J. Ives, ed., "From Pictic to San Gabriel in 1782: The Journey of Don 
Pedro Fages," IV Journal of Arizona History no. 4 (Winter 1968): 222-44. 

9. Herbert Eugene Bolton, "Diary of Pedro Fages, Exploration to San Francisco Bay in 1770," II Publication of the 
Academy of Pacific Coast History no. 3 (July 1911): 141-59. 

10. Crespi numbered among several of Junipero Serra's faithful students who accompanied their mentor to Mexico 
as a missionary. Born on March 1, 1721, he would be ordained as a Franciscan some 25 years later. Fray Crespi 
came overland with Fernando Rivera y Moncada's party, reaching San Diego on May 14, 1769, and accompanied 
Portola's expedition to the vicinity of San Francisco during October of that year. He served at several Alta 
California missions, including San Carlos in Carmel, where he died on January 1, 1782. Dan L. Thrapp, Encyclopedia 
of Frontier Biography vol. I (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1988), 344. 

11. Herbert E. Bolton, ed., Fray Juan Crespi, Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774 (Berkeley, Calif.: 
University of California Press, 1927), 280-89. 

12. Baptized Miguel Jose Serra in his native Petra, Majorca, this extraordinary man entered the Franciscan order 
at Palma, on September 14, 1730, just two months before his 17th birthday. He selected "Junipero" as his religious 
name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi's companion. Ordained in December 1738, he spent the next 11 years in his 



with the new viceroy, Antonio Bucareli y Ursiia. 13 Bucareli championed Serra's cause, 
relieving Fages and replacing him with Captain Fernando Xavier de Rivera y Moncada as 
military commandant of Alta California. 14 

Charged with another survey of the "Port and River of San Francisco," Rivera commanded 
16 lancers, a muleteer, two servants, and one priest, another native of Majorca, Fray Francisco 
Palou. 15 The 21 riders left Monterey on November 23, 1774. By December 4, they halted at 
"a long lake ending down at the shore" (now Lake Merced in the southwestern part of San 
Francisco). Rivera continued on with Palou and four troopers until they reached either what 
now is called Land's End or perhaps present-day Point Lobos, where they set up a cross. The 
next day they headed home, making their way to Monterey by December 13. 16 

Now Viceroy Bucareli turned to the intrepid Captain Juan Agustin Bautista de Anza, who 
long had dreamt of an overland route to the West Coast from Sonora. 17 In 1772, Anza made 



native land before sailing for New Spain on April 13, 1749. He remained in Mexico until 1767, when the expulsion 
of the Society of Jesus from the New World brought Serra an appointment as the head of the 15 former Jesuit 
missions in Baja California. Soon, he took on the task of expanding this chain into Alta California, arriving in July 
1, 1769, with Portola's party at San Diego. There he began the first of 21 missions destined to be established along 
the Camino Pxal (the "royal road" which Spanish authorities established as the coastal trail in Alta California). 
During his years of service in Alta California, Serra traveled to San Francisco four times. He died on August 28, 
1784, after thirty-five years of labor as a missionary. For further details consult Maynard J. Geiger's two works, 
The Life of Fray Junipero Serra, O.F.M. (Washington, D.C.: Academy of American Franciscan History, 1919) 2 vols., 
and Fray Palou s Life of Junipero Serra (Washington, D.C.: Academy of American Franciscan History, 1955). Also 
see Geiger, Franciscan Missionaries in Hispanic California, 1769-1848 (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1969), 
174-80, for a brief overview on this important individual's life. 

13. The 46th viceroy of New Spain, Antonio Bucareli y Ursiia, held the rank of lieutenant general of the royal 
armies. A native of Sevilla and related to nobility in both Spain and Italy, Bucareli served in many European 
campaigns before becoming viceroy in 1771. He assumed this post on September 22, and remained in this position 
until his death on April 9, 1779. One authority claims that "The term of his rule was the happiest that New Spain 
experienced." Bancroft, History of Mexico: 1600-1803, vol. Ill, 370-72. 

14. Rivera y Moncada was born near Compostela, Mexico, around 1710 or 1711. He would become an officer in 
the presidial forces. He spent more than a decade in Baja California before transferring in 1769 to Alta California 
where he played an important but often overlooked part in the Portola expedition. He proved difficult to deal with 
for both Fray Serra and Juan Bautista de Anza. Rivera's abrasive nature partially accounted for his relocation to 
the ill-fated Colorado settlements where he was killed in the Yuma uprising of July 17, 1781. For additional details 
read Ernest J. Burrus, "Rivera y Moncada, Explorer and Military Commander in Both Californias, in Light of His 
Diary and Other Contemporary Documents," L The Hispanic American Historical Review no. 4 (November 1970): 682- 
92 and Nuttall, "The Gobernantes": 270-71. 

15. Born on January 22, 1772, at Palma on the Balearic Island of Majorca, Fray Francisco Palou arrived in the New 
World some 37 years later, along with his mentor, Father Serra. For further details on this influential early 
chronicler of California see Geiger, Franciscan Missionaries, 174-80. 

16. Palou's account of the expedition is found in Bolton, Historical Memoirs of New California, vol. Ill, 249-307 and 
Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed., Anza's California Expeditions (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California, 1930), vol. II, 
393-456. Rivera's journal is located in the Archivo General de Indias (hereafter referred to as AGI), Audiencia de 
Guadalajara 514 (reel 614/2-24, Bancroft Library microfilm) and the Archivo General de la Nacion (hereafter referred 
to as AGN), Correspondencia de los Virreyes, ser. I, tomo 67 (reel 31, ff. 42-53, Bancroft Library). 

17. Born in 1735 at the Presidio of Fronteras in Sonora, Mexico, Anza literally grew up in the army. Anza's 
grandfather spent 30 years on the northern frontier of Mexico as a soldier. Anza's father rose to command 
Fronteras as well as to serve as acting governor of Sonora. The son would inherit both an interest in the military 
and a desire to forge a path to California from his father. Anza joined the colonial military as a volunteer in 1752. 



known his thoughts to Bucareli. The viceroy granted him permission to take 20 soldados to 
Alta California. On January 8, 1774, Anza rode forth to demonstrate that he could tackle the 
task. Months later, on May 26, he returned to his starting point in today's Arizona, thereby 
successfully proving the merit of his proposal. The pleased viceroy recognized the importance 
of Anza's accomplishment. He instructed Anza to head a Second Expedition "by way of the 
Colorado and Gila rivers" in order to establish missions in the area and to provide "in that 
port [San Francisco] a certain sign of defense to indicate that it belongs to his Majesty." 18 

To carry out his assignment, Anza gathered colonists for another westward trek. Anza went 
about recruiting in the Sinaloan town of Culiacan and the Sonoran Presidio of Horacitas 
where he gathered supplies and settlers. One of those who heeded the summons recalled that 
nearly each and every one had to be induced to leave his previous home for the uncertainty 
of a new one: 

It is, I presume, that practically everyone in this group has some ulterior motive for 
being here. Many, undoubtedly, are running away from some horrendous situation. 
Also, the fact that the government has offered good money and land, in order to 
attract people to become part of this enterprise, is sufficient reason for others. 
Otherwise, who would leave the comfort and security of a civilized life in Sonora to 



By 1755, he held a lieutenancy. Three years later, he fought the Apaches along the Gila, then earned his captaincy 
and became the commander of the Presidio of Tubac, in present-day southern Arizona. With his new promotion, 
Anza soon left his bachelorhood behind, marrying Dona Ana Maria Perez Serrano on June 24, 1761. A half decade 
later, he again fought the Apaches and from 1768 through 1771 he campaigned rigorously in Sonora. This record 
and Bucareli's desire to colonize San Francisco, made Anza a logical choice for various California assignments. 

For his success on the first expedition to Alta California, Anza became a lieutenant colonel. Upon his completion 
of the Second Expedition, the crown rewarded Anza with the rank of colonel of cavalry and transferred him to 
New Mexico where he became governor. He held this post until 1787, when he fell into disfavor. He received a 
transfer to Arizpe thereafter and died there on December 19, 1788, as the provisional commander of armed forces 
and nominal comandante of the Presidio of Tucson. For further information on the life of this able frontiersman 
consult J. N. Bowman and Robert F. Heizer, Anza and the Northwest Frontier of New Spain (Los Angeles, Calif.: 
Southwest Museum, 1967); Alfred Barnaby Thomas, Forgotten Frontiers: A Study of the Spanish Indian Policy of Don 
Juan Bautista de Anza Governor of New Mexico 1777-1787 (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969), and 
Henry F. Dobyns, Spanish Colonial Tucson: A Demographic History (Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1976), 
95. Manuel P. Servin, "California's Hispanic Heritage: A View Into the Spanish Myth," XIX San Diego History no. 
1 (Winter 1973): 3 speculates, Anza "was in all probability a mestizo...." If this were so, his mixed blood did not 
hold Anza back from advancement through most of his distinguished career as might have seemed the case in 
the caste-conscious Spanish colonial society of the era. In this article, Servin makes the point that, "Mexican mixed 
bloods, in addition to being the pioneer soldier-settlers who garrisoned presidios, guarded missions, carried the 
mail, erected buildings, farmed, and even took care of flocks, soon became the main source of 'Spanish' population 
for securing the territory" of today's California. They, and not the peninsulares or criollos, formed the mainstay of 
the gente de razon, in Servin's estimation. Navarro Garcia, Don ]ose de Gdlvez y la comandancia general de las provincias 
internas del norte de Nueva Espana (Sevilla: Publicaciones de la Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americano, 1964), 124- 
26 concludes that one-half of the population of 89,000 in Sonora were Indians and "the rest largely mestizo." For 
more on the subject within California read Alexander Avilez, Population Increases into Alta California in the Spanish 
Period, 1769-1821 (San Francisco, Calif.: R and E Associates, 1974). 

18. Herbert Eugene Bolton, Anza's California Expeditions, vol. IV, (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California, 1930), 
259. 



travel hundreds of leagues loaded with hardships every moment of days and nights 
unless there was some more desirable reward? 19 

By May 1775, Anza took his hopeful flock northward from Mexico for the first leg of the 
journey. Passing through Apache country, his party arrived at San Ygnacio de Tubac. There, 
the caravan made its final preparations for the journey to Alta California. 

In the meantime, 30-year-old Juan Manuel de Ayala played another role in preparing the way 
for Spanish settlement in northern California. 20 As the skipper of the packet San Carlos, also 
called Toisdn de Oro (Golden Fleece), Ayala sailed from San Bias with supplies for the proposed 
colony. 21 His other duties included the charting of the bay and its shoreline, and ascertaining 
whether a navigable passage existed to the inland waterway from the sea. Finally, Ayala 
sought to learn whether a port could be established there. On August 4, 1775, San Carlos 
arrived just outside the present day Golden Gate. The next morning, Ayala sent his first pilot, 
Jose de Cahizares, into the harbor with a longboat. 22 That evening he followed, anchoring 
somewhere near what became North Beach. During the next 44 days Ayala and Canizares 
completed a thorough reconnaissance before heading back to Monterey on September 18. (See 
figure 1.) Shortly thereafter, Ayala enthusiastically reported the fine harbor presented "a 
beautiful fitness, and it has no lack of good drinking water and plenty of firewood and 
ballast." He also concluded that it possessed a healthful climate and "docile natives lived 
there." 23 

Now, all stood ready for the long-awaited colonization. Anza's assembled 240 souls and 1,000 
head of domestic stock ventured forth from Tubac, just over a month after Ayala's departure 
from San Francisco, leaving on October 23, 1775. Despite the arduous passage, the rugged 
men, women, and children reached Monterey on March 10, 1776. On March 23, 1776, Anza 
left his weary fellow sojourners at this location and took an advance party from Monterey to 
select the new outpost of the empire. 



19. Antonio Rosario Ortiz, San Francisco Begins, 1776: The Bicentennial Diary of How it All Began, ed., Parker L. 
Johnstone (Burlingame, Calif.: Mission Publishers, 1976), 32. 

20. Arriving from Spain in 1775 to report for duty in San Bias de Nayarit on the west coast of Mexico, Ayala was 
one of six naval officers dispatched by Madrid in that year. He conducted a number of explorations and supply 
cruises through the 1780s, when he transferred to the Philippines. Michael E. Thurman, The Naval Department of 
San Bias: New Spain's Bastion for Alta California and Nootka 1767 to 1798 (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark 
Company, 1967), 26, 150, and 161. 

21. For further information about this craft, "San Carlos, 1775-1975: The First European Ship to Enter San Francisco 
Bay," Sea Letter of the San Francisco Maritime Museum (Summer 1975) is recommended reading. 

22. Referred to by Padre Serra as the "young inexperienced Canizares," this man nevertheless compiled a 
distinguished record as a mariner and cartographer. He first arrived in San Bias in 1769, accompanying the original 
expedition to establish San Diego and Monterey. By 1774, he commanded Principe. During the following year he 
sailed under Ayala, and made a chart of the Bay Area. In 1776, he returned and helped lay out the Presidio of San 
Francisco. During 1777, he received a promotion to piloto first-class. Two years later, he went with Juan Francisco 
Bodega y Quadra in Favorita to survey the Northwest Coast and evidently remained active until his death in 1802. 
Thurman, The Naval Department of San Bias, 150 and 200. 

23. John Galvin, ed., The First Spanish Entry into San Francisco Bay 1775 (San Francisco, Calif.: John Howell Books, 
1971), 91. 



2 Punta del Angel de la Qua 
a Fujtla dc afw nuebo . 
h Fio de la Jalud . 
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e Quantioso Canal a la 
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Pue*l/&9 hratas. 
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^*%V^3;#F& Bahia def/.'S'dclKo 




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B Fun fa de Rt/es. 
C Pula de Santiago. 
;© Punta de San Carlos. 
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la Mar'tnera. 

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N'S'de Ctuadalupe. 
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L YttasB.at.as entre a^gita dull 
Ai Aqua dulte enlre lulares. 
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Blanco. 



PLAN DEL (MAN PUERTO DE SAN 

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'23456783 



Figure 1. "The Plan of the Great Port of San Francisco," prepared by Manuel Villavicencio 
relying upon Jose de Canizares's 1775 chart of the Bay Area. Villavicencio's version also 
included the symbols "V" ("New Mission of San Francisco founded on October 4, 1776") and 
"X" ("Royal Presidio of San Francisco established on September 17, 1776"), although he had 
juxtaposed the two locales. Also of note is the presence of "Point San Jose or the White Cliffs," 
the spot selected by Juan Bautista de Anza for the Presidio but rejected by Jose Moraga in 
favor of a more inland situation. 



Plan <U 1* Boca del Puerto dm S*n Francuco, sxtuxdo «n 37. 4(9- 







Ejeftb «l* dot leguis Mexxcxnxt. 



Map or the Entrance to the Port or San Fran Cisco 



Figure 2. Padre Pedro Font's 1776 map of the route taken by Juan Bautista de Anza's advance 
party in March 1776 includes the Cantil Blanco [A], the site first selected for the Presidio of 
San Francisco, and Mountain Lake [B], traditionally considered as the campsite for this 
exploration party Original in the John Carter Brown Library. 



According to an account kept by Fray Pedro Font, on March 27, "the weather was fair and 
clear, a favor which God granted us during all these days, and especially today, in order that 
we might see the harbor which we were going to explore...." 24 

After a march of four hours, they "halted on the banks of a lake or spring of very fine water 
near the mouth of the port of San Francisco," today's Mountain Lake. This spot afforded a 
resting place for the tired riders. Then, Anza took Font, another officer, and four soldiers to 
scout further. Going to the northernmost tip of San Francisco Bay's peninsula and looking 
down from White Cliffs, Anza had seen enough. He ordered the party back to camp. There, 
Font set down his somewhat over- optimistic impressions: 

This place and its vicinity has abundant pasturage, plenty of firewood, and fine 
water, all good advantages for establishing here the presidio or fort which is 
planned. It lacks only timber, for there is not a tree on all those hills, though the 
oaks and other trees along the road are not very far away... Here and near the lake 
there are yerba buena and so many lilies that I almost had them inside my tent. 

Font continued and, for one of the first times, clearly used the term San Francisco as the name 
of the great bay: 

The port of San Francisco ... is a marvel of nature, and might well be called a harbor 
of harbors, because of its great capacity, and of several small bays which it unfolds 
in its margins or beach and in its islands. 

On March 28, Anza returned to the Cantil Blanco (White Cliffs) of the previous day to erect 
a wooden cross. This action marked the formal act of possession for Spain. Anza also selected 
the ground where the cross stood as the spot for a presidio to protect the region. Then, the 
party further surveyed the immediate area. Fray Font recorded: 

On leaving we ascended a small hill and then entered upon a mesa that was very 
green and flower-covered, with an abundance of wild violets. The mesa is very 
open, of considerable extent, and level, sloping a little toward the harbor. It must be 
about half a league wide and somewhat longer, getting narrower until it ends right 
at the white cliff. This mesa affords a most delightful view, for from it one sees a 
large part of the port and its islands, as far as the other side, the mouth of the 
harbor, and of the sea all that the sight can take in as far as beyond the farallones. 
Indeed, although in my travels I saw very good sites and beautiful country, I saw 
none which pleased me so much as this. And I think that if it could be well settled 
like Europe there would not be anything more beautiful in all the world, for it has 
the best advantages for founding in it a most beautiful city, with all the 
conveniencesdesired, by land as well as sea, with that harbor so remarkable and so 



24. Unless otherwise noted the following quotations from Padre Font were taken from Bolton, Anza's California 
Expeditions, vol. IV, 329-39. Father Font was another of the gifted Franciscans to chronicle early California history, 
albeit only for the short period he was here in connection with the second Anza expedition. Born in Gerona, 
Catalonia, he came to Mexico in 1763. Within a decade, he moved to Sonora as a missionary among the Pimas. 
Upon his return with Anza, in 1776, he went to Ures. There the priest completed the short version of the diary 
that gained him fame, the longer edition being completed in 1777. Three years later, Father Font died at Caborca. 
Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, vol. I, 504. 

9 



spacious, in which may be established shipyards, docks, and anything that might be 
wished. 

After expressing his delight and making some remarkable predictions about the Bay Area's 
future, Fray Font set down his thoughts about Anza's decision: 

This mesa the commander selected as the site of the new settlement and fort which 
were to be established on this harbor; for, being on a height, it is so commanding 
that with muskets it can defend the entrance to the mouth of the harbor, while a 
gunshot away it has water to supply the people, namely, the spring or lake where 
we halted. 25 

The men then went on to explore the hills that extended inland. Later that day, they returned. 
Font again noted the presence of some "timber and firewood, much water in several springs 
or lakes, abundant lands for raising crops and finally, a vast supply of pasturage in all the 
country...." In short, everything existed for the new settlement insofar as "plentiful fuel, water, 
and grass or pasturage for horses" were concerned. The padre concluded, "The only lack is 
timber for large buildings, although for huts and barracks and for the stockade of the presidio 
there are plenty of trees in the groves." 26 Font's assessment echoed the admiration of 
previous Spanish visitors, but his comments about the absence of building material would 
have ramifications in the future. Neither Font nor Anza, however, would have to wrestle with 
the actual establishment of a settlement since both men left the Bay Area for Monterey on 
April 5, arriving there some three days later. By April 14, the two men departed once again, 
this time setting out for Mexico, where Anza would receive another promotion and a new 
assignment destined to take him away forever from California. 

Thus, it fell to Anza's second-in-command, Jose Joaquin Moraga, to lead the final leg of the 
colonizing expedition northward. 27 Setting out from Monterey on June 17, 1776, some 193 
settlers— both soldier and civilian, some with families and others single adventurers—made 
ready for a new life. By June 27, this contingent under Moraga arrived in the Bay Area, 
halting at the site of what became the Mission Dolores. There, the group rested and waited 
for supplies, which the San Carlos carried. The next several weeks passed with Moraga 
actively exploring the region. On these forays he concluded that a plain to the southeast of 
the Cantil Blanco seemed more advantageous for a military outpost. Indeed, Moraga 



25. Bolton, Anza's California Expeditions, vol. IV, 340-41. Font made a map of the exploration of that day which 
depicts Mountain Lake and the off flow of Lobos Creek to the sea. 

26. Ibid., 343-44. 

27. Moraga served both as comandante and habilitado of the Presidio of San Francisco from its founding until his 
death on July 13, 1785. The son of Jose Moraga and Maria Gaona, he hailed from Mission Los Santos Angeles de 
Guevavi, in today's Arizona, being born on August 22, 1745. At 19, he married Maria del Pilar de Leon y Barcelo, 
when serving in the presidial garrison of Fronteras. She survived her husband, dying in October 1808, and was 
buried at Mission Dolores. According to one source Moraga stood about five feet two inches and two lines, "but 
there is some reason to suppose that the pie del rey used in measuring the height of soldiers was longer than the 
ordinary Spanish foot, which was 8 per cent shorter that our foot." Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 470; Marie 
E. Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California: 1769-1850, vol. I (New Orleans, La.: Polyanthos Press, 
1976), 211, and E. Eugene Early, 'The Moragas: Soldiers, Explorers, Founders," (MA thesis, University of San 
Francisco, 1950). See Appendix A for a listing of subsequent Spanish and Mexican regime commanders and 
caretakers for the Presidio of San Francisco. 

10 



realized cold fogs often shrouded this windy spot favored by Anza. Consequently, he may 
have desired a slightly milder climate than the exposed cliffs selected by Anza. Certainly he 
sought convenient sources of water, which he found on "a good plain ... in sight of the harbor 
and entrance, and also of its interior. As soon as he saw this location the lieutenant decided 
that it was suitable for ..." settlement. 28 With this in mind, Moraga relocated the main force 
to the spot he selected. 29 On July 26, Moraga's main force arrived at a clearing overlooking 
the bay and immediately began work on a chapel and some crude shelters for the 
garrison. 30 

In this, the group followed in a long series of ventures and drew upon extensive experience 
in colonization. By 1776, the Spanish method of settling new territories had developed into 
a rather rigid and complex series of legal and support systems. 31 The basic structure of 
Spanish colonization consisted of three interlocking and complementary institutions, the 
pueblo, the mission, and the presidio. 32 The pueblo, a civilian settlement, aided in the 
provision of food for the region and a stable Hispanic population base. The mission was to 
help in these tasks by farming, ranching, and limited manufacturing, all performed by an 
indigenous, rather than a transplanted labor force brought from Mexico and Baja California. 
The padres of the mission assumed as their important responsibility the challenge of the 
Hispanization of the native peoples, a process that began with conversion to Catholicism and 
continued with training in various trades and a limited effort at education. Since Spain lacked 
a surplus of potential emigrants to relocate to her new lands, this missionary process became 
a key to the survival of Spanish expansion. Finally, the presidio functioned as the military and 
civil complex. Derived from the Latin term presidium, a fortified or garrisoned place, the 
Spanish presidio acted as the advance guard of territorial settlement. In addition to its martial 
service, it provided the core of governmental, social, and economic activity in the region. 



28. In addition to Mountain Lake, where Anza had camped earlier, there would be Ojo de Agua del Polin (El Polin 
Springs) and Arroyo del Puerto (Valley of the Port and now called Lobos Creek) for water sources to supply the 
Spanish garrison. Paths or trails eventually provided a means to reach these various sources of water and pasture 
from the main compound. Similarly, a trail ran to Mission Dolores which, according to one source, passed near 
the comandancia and followed the little valley that runs southeast to the present boundary near Laurel Avenue then 
went on to the mission. Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in Northern 
California, "The Army at the Golden Gate: A Guide to Army Posts in the San Francisco Area," c. 1940, Presidio 
of San Francisco, 68 and 76. Presumably, a regular means of reaching "The old Spanish anchorage at edge of 
Presidio Shoal, extending from about 600 to 720 feet east of Fort Point eastward to about due north of the Coast 
Guard Station and west of Anita Rocks" existed. This spot, which could be observed from the quadrangle, 
remained in use until the early 1820s when Yerba Buena cove supplanted the original site. J. N. Bowman, "The 
Spanish Anchorage in San Francisco Bay," XXV California Historical Quarterly no. 4 (December 1946): 323. 

29. See Appendix B for a list of the individuals who came to establish the Presidio of San Francisco in 1776. 

30. Bolton, Historical Memoirs, vol. IV, 121-122. 

31. For background to provide context consult C. H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (New York, N.Y.: 
Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1963) and Frank W. Blackmar, Spanish Institutions in the Southwest (Baltimore, Md.: 
The Hopkins Papers, 1891). 

32. Discussions of these three pivotal institutions are found in Herbert Eugene Bolton, "The Mission as a Frontier 
Institution in the Spanish Colonies," XXIII American Historical Review no. 1 (October 1917): 42-61; Oakah L. Jones, 
Los Paisanos: Spanish Settlers on the Northern Frontier of New Spain (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 
1979); Max L. Moorehead, The Presidio: Bastion of the Spanish Borderlands (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1975). This last mentioned work essentially excludes California, although Leon G. Campbell, "The First 
Californios: Presidial Society in Spanish California, 1769-1822," XI Journal of the West no. 4 (October 1972): 582-95 
and Richard S. Whitehead, "Alta California's Four Fortresses," LVI Southern California Historical Quarterly no. 1 
(Spring 1983): 67-94, somewhat make up for this situation. 

11 



Although these presidios fulfilled similar purposes to the forts of the French, British, and 
Anglo-Americans on the frontier, the Spanish faced different problems. 33 They maintained 
a much longer frontier line, which eventually stretched from Texas to Alta California, and for 
a short time, beyond. As the outposts multiplied, expenses to man and supply the garrisons 
grew. San Francisco, Alta California's northernmost bastion, especially suffered. The sites 
along the West Coast, as the last in the borderlands to be settled, in their early years 
experienced many of the same difficulties as their counterparts had in New Mexico 
generations before. Hundreds of miles from the nearest Spanish-speaking concentration, a 
handful of farmers, soldiers, and clerics held on to a thin strip of California, chiefly along the 
coastline. 

This small group of Pacific pioneers also differed from their Atlantic counterparts in the 
degree to which they were controlled by their home government. San Franciscans "lived in 
the shadow of Spanish absolutism," with no encouragement toward becoming self-reliant. 
Regulations, supervision, and tradition carefully controlled every detail of life in the presidios. 
The body of laws even affected such decisions as how to make a living or whether or not to 
stay in the settlement. At times, this regimentation crippled the capacity of the people to 
adapt to new, unpredictable conditions, and in a more general sense, stifled the impulse to 
innovate and improve since everything supposedly "was carefully planned, minutely 
organized, and regularly oversupervised." 34 The obligation to comply with regulations and 
the need to respond to the realities of daily life were not always compatible; the interplay of 
these demands upon the Spanish colonizers resulted in the confusion of both purpose and 
priority that characterized the Spanish settlement of San Francisco. 

In the early stages the main priority was to survive while awaiting seaborne supplies. During 
this time, Moraga's force remained in its rudimentary encampment without any special 
military preparations. That situation changed when San Carlos finally arrived on August 17. 
After the ship's captain, its pilot (Canizares), and the ship's chaplain came ashore they 
concurred with Moraga's selection for the fort and presidio. With this, Canizares laid out "A 
square measuring ninety-two varus [roughly 90 yards square] each way..., with divisions for 
church, royal offices, warehouses, guardhouse, and houses for soldier settlers, a map of the 
plan being formed and drawn by the first pilot." 35 (See figure 3.) To expedite construction, 
a squad of sailors and two carpenters joined in to complete a warehouse, the comandancia, and 
a chapel, while the soldiers worked on their own dwellings. On September 17, 1776, with 
sufficient progress being made, San Carlos's crew joined the soldiers and citizens and four 
missionary priests at a solemn high mass, then performed the ceremony of formal dedication, 
followed by the singing of the Te Deum Laudamus, "accompanied by the peal of bells and 
repeated salvos of cannon, muskets, and guns, whose roar and the sound of the bells 
doubtless terrified the heathen, for they did not allow themselves to be seen for many 
days." 36 



33. Bannon, The Spanish Borderlands, 5. 

34. The above summary was taken from Bannon, The Spanish Borderlands, 5-6, and 158. 

35. Bolton, Historical Memoirs of New California, vol. IV, 124-25. In 1568, the vara was set at 33.755 inches by Philip 
II. The measurement fluctuated in the New World. For instance, in Mexico it ranged under 33 inches (32.96 or 
32.9731 inches). For this and other measurements in Spanish Alta California see the glossary provided with this 
study. 

36. Bolton, Historical Memoirs of New California, vol. IV, 125-127. 

12 



While the indigenous people may have been awed by the pyrotechnics, this place stood as 
a hollow symbol of Spanish dominion of the area. San Francisco's paltry and inadequate 
budget barely met the requirements of establishing this new community on the fringes of 
"civilization." Anza asked for nearly 22,000 pesos to set the San Francisco project in motion. 37 
This sum included the annual salary for 40 privates and allowed for other expenses, although 
it seems that the government only authorized two-thirds of the financial support requested. 

Limited financial support, coupled with the lack of dependable seaborne or overland supply 
lines, meant that for the next three-quarters of a century, the settlers wanted for many basics. 
Contrary winds and storms often delayed the shipments from San Bias, a port located on 
Mexico's mainland along the Gulf of California, as much as did fiscal constraints. 38 

For instance, the San Francisco presidial district's annual inventory of arms and equipment 
for 1778 illustrated the poor preparedness of the garrison to repel a potential enemy. Just two 
years after their arrival, approximately half the troops lacked swords, lances, muskets, and 
pistols. Horses necessary for cavalry duty also were in short supply. Two-thirds of the men 
owned neither saddles nor the protection of the heavy leather jerkins (cueras). 39 This 
garment, which one 18th century account described as "a coat without sleeves ... made of 
seven plies of deerskin, proof against arrows of Indians except at a very short range," formed 
a basic article of issuance for the presidial soldiers. 40 The hot, cumbersome cuera, which 
reached to below the knees and which derived from a mixture of Old World armor and the 
Aztec ichcipilli, in some respects symbolized the many mestizo troops who wore the garment. 
In fact, the item became so associated with the lancers that they came to be called "leather 
jacket soldiers" (soldados de cuera).^ Consequently, the absence of this hallmark of the 
borderlands' horse soldier indicated the sorry state of affairs in San Francisco. 

The reliance on the lance (lanza) as the soldado's main weapon followed another long tradition 
of the borderlands' horse soldier which had been set down by Spanish military regulations. 
Effective against certain Native American groups, this relic of the Middle Ages possessed 
some utility into the late 19th century. It offered several advantages over more modern 
weapons of the period since it took less skill to fabricate, repair, and maintain than firearms, 



37. Bolton, Anza's California Expedition, vol. I, 225. 

38. Thurman, The Naval Department of San Bias, provides a useful overview on the attempt to supply Alta 
California by sea from this port that stood across from the tip of Baja California. The harbor there now is silted 
up and no longer serves its earlier purpose. 

39. Anonymous Report, San Francisco, August 20, 1778, Archives of California, Provincial Records, XXII, 84 (MS 
transcripts made of Spanish records century before the destruction of the originals in the 1906 earthquake and fire), 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. Hereafter referred to as Archives of California with specific 
information. 

40. Ray Brandes, trans, and ed., The Costanso Narrative of the Portold Expedition (Newhall, Calif.: The Hogarth Press, 
1970), 114. 

41. A number of studies provide coverage on the subject of these soldier-settlers of New Spain's frontier. Sidney 
B. Brinckerhoff and Odie Faulk, Lancers for the King: A Study of the Military System of New Spain, with a Translation 
of the Royal Regulations of 1772 (Phoenix, Ariz.: Arizona Historical Foundation, 1965); Odie Faulk, The Leather jacket 
Soldier: Spanish Military Equipment and Institutions of the Late 18th Century (Pasadena, Calif.: Socio-Technical Press, 
1971); Max Moorehead, "The Soldados de Cuera: Stalwart of the Spanish Borderlands" VIII Journal of the West no. 
1 (January 1969): 38-55. Christon I. Archer, The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760-1810 (Albuquerque, N. Mex.: 
University of New Mexico Press, 1977) should also be consulted to place California military operations in context. 

13 



Figure 3. According to Palou's Historical Memoirs, Vol. IV, 124, Jose Joaquin Moraga, possibly 
with the aid of Jose de Canizares, made a plan of the new post, the legend of which 
translates: 

Plan of the Presidio of San Francisco established at the port of the same name in 
August of the current year of 1776 by Don Jose Joaquin Moraga.... Note: all this 
construction is of palisade and mud, with the exception of the Sergeant's house 
which is made of stone. 90 varas [square?] 

1 Storage room for goods of His Majesty 

2 Body of men on guard [guard house] 

3 Extra gun powder supply [magazine] 

4 Chapel 

5 Commandant's house 

6 Sergeant's house 

7 House of the 1st Corporal 

8 House of the 2nd Corporal 

9 Cattle corral 

10 Soldiers' and settlers' rooms" 

This design, complete with bastions at opposite corners to provide flanking fire, follows the 
prescriptions of reforms instituted after 1772 for the entire Provincias Internas, and shows an 
effort to conform to norms found throughout the borderlands of the period. No indication of 
orientation exists nor is the exact location of this site known today. It is possible, however, 
that subsequent construction simply replaced prior structures. Further, it cannot be 
ascertained whether this plat presents what actually was built or instead what was intended 
to be constructed, according to regulations, but which may not have been carried out in the 
precise manner indicated. Of particular note is the absence of the bastions in subsequent 
depictions. It may have been that these features never existed or at least did not remain in 
later rebuilding. Plan from archival sources in Spain provided by the Spanish Colonial 
Research Center, Santa Fe, National Park Service. 



14 



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consisting of little more than a shaft with a 13-inch iron blade. The lance likewise never 
misfired nor required ammunition, something that had to be manufactured elsewhere then 
transported via the sea to replenish exhausted ordnance stores. 

The shield (adarga), which came in both oval and horizontal figure-eight shaped versions, was 
"Made of two plies of bullhide...." Soldiers carried this device "on the left arm" in order to 
turn aside spears and arrows, the rider not only defending himself, but also his horse. 42 In 
addition, they used a short leather apron, called arma or dejensa, which fastened to the 
pommel of the saddle and hung down on both sides to cover the rider's thighs and legs. 

The remainder of the lancer's rig consisted of a short broadsword (espada ancha), a carbine 
(escopeta), and, in a few instances, a brace of muzzle-loading pistols. Regulations further 
specified a uniform consisting of a "short jacket of blue woolen cloth, with small cuffs, and 
a red collar, breeches of blue, a cloth cap of the same color, a black neckerchief, hat 
[presumably black], shoes and leggings [botas]." An antelope hide bandolier with the name 
of the presidio embroidered upon it and which served as a sword carrier, a cartridge box that 
strapped around the waist, spurs, and a vaquero-style saddle with a horn and "corresponding 
mochila, saddle pad, leather leg guards, front mounted saddle bags, and enclosed wooden 
stirrups," supposedly made up the other basic elements. 43 As noted, however, the garrison 
often went without the specified issue. 

Arrival of the supply ship Santiago, in mid-June 1778, after a 3V2- month voyage from San Bias, 
did little to make up for such shortages. 44 In fact, the demands had increased by that time 
with the 1777 order for the founding of a pueblo on the Rio de Guadalupe. This effort 
occupied much of Moraga's time in the autumn of that year. Five settlers with their families 
and nine soldiers with some knowledge of farming left San Francisco in November 1777 for 
the site of the new town to the south. From Loreto the governor selected San Jose de 
Guadalupe as the name for the settlement. Now with the pueblo and missions, the Hispanic 
male population in the San Francisco district increased by almost a third during the year; 
however, only two new soldiers joined Lieutenant Moraga's military force. 

This "reinforcement" brought little relief. Indeed, circumstances continued to undermine 
efforts toward improvements in the first years. For instance, when the new governor of both 
Calif ornias, Felipe de Neve, made an inspection in April 1777, he noted that while Moraga 
began work on enclosing the quadrangle with a wall, the completed commandant's quarters 
and warehouse, both of adobe, appeared to be very unsubstantial, findings which tend to 
indicate that Moraga's 1776 plan reflected what he had hoped to construct rather than what 



42. Brandes, The Costanso Narrative, 90. 



43. Brinckerhoff and Faulk, Lancers for the King, 21, 69-77. Governor Neve proposed an improved pattern for the 
cartridge box as part of the 1781 regulations. He noted that the former pattern with its wooden block and double 
row of sockets for cartridges was uncomfortable to wear. He wanted new models to "be fashioned in one row with 
twenty-four sockets made of tin, lined with leather fitted close together on the strap encircling the body." The belt 
was to be "a vara and a half long with corresponding width." A flap covered the tins and a brass buckle held with 
two rivets served to fasten the belt. Last, two small pouches, one for a tin powder flask, and the other presumably 
for flints, cleaning brushes and like accessories, completed the new design. John Everett Johnson, trans., Reglamento 
para el Gobierno de la Provincia de Californias por S.M. en Real Orden de Octubre de 1781 vol. II (San Francisco, Calif.: 
Grabhorn Press, 1929), 14-15. 

44. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 328. 

16 



had been built. 45 Neve found all other structures to be "mere huts." Consequently, the 
governor ordered future construction to be of adobe built atop stone foundations. 
Unfortunately, this prescription came too late. 46 During the winter of 1778-1779, the Presidio 
suffered heavy damage from the weather. Severe storms, especially in January and February, 
destroyed a major part of the palisade walls, the warehouse, and a casemate, this last named 
structure possibly standing outside the quadrangle near the quadrangle's entrance to protect 
the gate. By 1780, none of the buildings erected in 1778, and little of the walls, stood, having 
been toppled by the intense rains and strong winds. 47 

More than nature conspired against the community. Internal friction existed too. Additionally, 
the post needed foodstuffs. Not until December 1777 did the required corn, beans, lentils, 
chick peas, lard, brown sugar, and chili arrive for the troops as well as coarse and refined 
flour and biscuits for the officers. The storehouse at the Presidio also carried such other goods 
as 3-1/8 pounds of jerky, 1-4/5 pounds of chili, and more than a pound of biscuits, any of 
which items could be bought for a single real (an eighth of a peso). iS A real also purchased 
10 pounds of fresh meat, while a customer who "was willing to take it on the hoof ... could 
get a calf, or a heifer, or a two-year-old sheep" for two pesos. Two reales fetched a dozen eggs, 
a pair of chickens, two hare, or four rabbits. Moreover, "A fenega (a little more than V/z 
bushels; see glossary for equivalent weights and measures) of wheat sold for $2.00, a fenega 
of corn for $1.50, or one peso, four reales."* 9 The beans, lentils, and chick peas went for $3.00 
a fenega. A range bull cost four pesos; an ox trained to the yoke brought six pesos. A saddle 
horse could be had for nine pesos; the saddle would cost an additional 15 pesos. A mule 
broken to the saddle topped the list as the most expensive item at 18 pesos. Ultimately, by the 
1780s, the increase in the number of cattle in California brought an additional cost reduction. 



45. Neve, born in Baylen, Kingdom of Andalusia in 1728, became the first governor of both Baja and Alta 
California to reside in Monterey, which then became the capital when he relocated there on February 3, 1777. A 
lieutenant colonel when he first came to Monterey, Neve received his promotion to colonel on January 5, 1778. 
On September 10, 1782, he terminated his governorship in California and assumed the position of commandant 
inspector of the Provincias Internas. By August 12, 1783, he rose to commandant general of this same jurisdiction 
having gained his brigadier generalcy earlier that year. Neve died on August 21, 1784, at Hacienda de Nuestra 
Senora de Carmen de Penablanca, Nueva Vizcaya. Nuttall, "The Gobernantes": 272-73. 

46. The foregoing represents a synthesis of Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 296-97; 309-312; 472, and Governor 
Felipe de Neve to Viceroy Bucareli, Monterey, June 6, 1777, Archives of California, Provincial Records, tomo XXII, 
80. Moraga's force in 1777, according to Bancroft, consisted of himself, Guarda almacen Hermenegildo Sal, Sergeant 
Juan Pablo Grijalva, Corporals Domingo Alviso, Valerio Mesa, Pablo Pinto, Gabriel Peralta, and Ramon Bojorges, 
along with 33 soldiers, including mission guards at San Francisco and Santa Clara. 

47. Governor Felipe de Neve to Commandant General Teodoro de Croix, Monterey, April 4, 1779, Archives of 
California, Provincial Records, XXII, 126; Bancroft, History of California, Vol. I, 472. 

48. In order to understand the monetary system it should be explained that the peso de ocho "was divided into 
eight reales. The real was in turn divided into twelve granos. One real therefore equalled roughly the value of 12V£ 
cents in United States money, while the grano was worth a fraction more than a United States cent." It is of interest 
that under the Articles of Confederation, Congress recommended the Spanish peso as the "unit of United States 
coinage, and Alexander Hamilton acted on this in 1791." Edwin A. Beilharz, Felipe de Neve First Governor of 
California (San Francisco, Calif.: California Historical Society, 1971), 40-41, 43, and 104. Unless otherwise noted, all 
information about the 1777 status of supplies at the Presidio came from the above source. 

49. For modern American equivalents of the various measures consult J. N. Bowman, "Weights and Measures of 
Provincial California," XXX California Historical Quarterly no. 4 (December 1951): 315-38. 

17 



The expanded supply of beef dropped the price to one cent per pound for fresh meat! 50 The 
townspeople at San Jose eventually began to provide some of the staples for the post, thereby 
making edibles fairly inexpensive and accessible. 

Typical meals prepared with such ingredients included a morning starter at six or seven 
o'clock, at least for officers 2 and soldados distinguidos, of chocolate or atole de pinole (a cereal 
meal gruel). 51 An hour later, a second breakfast consisting of cooked meat, frijoles, sometimes 
bread or, more often, tortillas might be consumed. At noon, those with the wherewithal might 
eat rice or noodle soup, meat stew with vegetables, beans, and sometimes end with a dessert 
of sweet rolls or cheese. The women might take wine and the men brandy with this repast. 
The evening meal came about eight-thirty or nine, with beans and a cooked meat dish 
prepared with chili and accompanied by wine as typical fare for the more affluent. 

Most of the soldiers, however, had to be content with a breakfast of roasted corn or boiled 
cereal served with milk. At noon meat, milk, beans, and tortillas made up the typical menu. 
Corn or cereal gruel and an occasional piece of cheese might complete the dinner. For supper, 
soldiers and their families consumed roasted or stewed meat, beans, cornmeal gruel, or migas 
(fried crumbs made of crushed corn). Rarely were wine or brandy available as these were 
both expensive and difficult to obtain in the early period of settlement, at least when it came 
to the enlisted men, their dependents, and the like. 52 

Sometimes, short tempers seemed to coincide with short rations. An official report recorded 
an assault in July 1778. A recruit from Monterey accused Corporal Valerio Mesa of attacking 
him and causing several wounds. Moraga held a hearing with the two principals and two 
witnesses. 53 Existing records fail to indicate whether Mesa received any punishment. 54 

The September 1778 appearance of Princesa and Favorita, under the command of Lieutenants 
Ignacio Arteaga and Juan Francisco de la Bodega Y Quadra, indirectly led to another 
investigation. The ships, returning from exploration to the northwest coast, laid over at San 
Francisco for about six weeks while the men recuperated from scurvy. During this respite at 
the Presidio, an October 11, 1779 fire destroyed the hospital tent used by the two crews and 



50. Chapman, A History of California, 401. 

51. Any enlisted man who could show an official certificate attesting to his pure white ancestry (criollos or 
peninsulares) could be granted the status of a soldado distinguido and assume the honorific title of "don," along with 
enjoying certain other privileges, which included the right to wear swords such as those carried by officers, 
exclusion from menial labor, and extra consideration for promotions. At San Francisco usually only sons of officers 
qualified for this distinction since regularly the enlisted men were mestizo, mulatto, or of other mixed blood. This 
represents one example of the class distinctions based on European or colonial heritage which grew up in Spanish 
California and throughout Spain's New World holdings. 

52. Jose Maria Amador, "Memorias Sobre la Historia de California," (unpublished MS, Bancroft Library, University 
of California, Berkeley, Calif., 1877), 114-17. 

53. Report, Anonymous, San Francisco, August 20, 1778, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, I, 306. 

54. Moraga continued to find Mesa a troublesome member of the command. The corporal evidently spent much 
of his time quarreling with the alcalde of San Jose. Jose Moraga to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, June 2, 1783, Archives 
of California, Provincial State Papers, II, 422. By the following year, Mesa and one other corporal, Joaquin Alvarez, 
were replaced by Mariano Cordero and Nicolas Galindo. Letter from Jose Moraga, San Francisco, September 1, 
1784, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 49. Mesa first came to California from Sonora 
with Anza. His wife, Maria Leonor Borboa, accompanied him as did their six children. 

18 



gutted one the houses at the post. 55 Adding to the excitement, thieves robbed the Presidio's 
royal warehouse of a great quantity of supplies. A quick inventory of the storehouse showed 
that the culprits removed goods to the value of 700 pesos. This sum-a large one, indeed, for 
the period -equaled the annual salary of the commanding officer of the garrison. The thieves 
stole such things as pants, shoes, odd bits of hardware, shirts, bolts of cloth, and two pounds 
of chocolate. Two days after the theft, evidence implicated two soldiers, Marcelo Pinto and 
Mariano Castro, and two servants, Juan de Espinosa and Jose Tiburcio Altamirano, when the 
men tried to dispose of some of the loot to sailors of Princesa. 56 

Lieutenant Moraga called for a trial at the Presidio that may have lasted for several days. The 
noncommissioned officers, who took turns at writing the transcript, assembled more than a 
hundred pages of testimony. Witnesses were questioned, several being called back three or 
four times. When the hearing concluded, the thieves were put under guard. Moraga sent the 
records through official channels to the commanding general for his decision on the matter. 

Justice moved slowly in 18th century California. While Moraga awaited his superiors' 
decision, in March 1782, Pinto and Castro escaped from the post guardhouse. The prisoners 
enjoyed their freedom for only a brief time since troops sent in pursuit of the pair recaptured 
the two men. Moraga placed the corporal of the guard, Mariano Cordero, and the sentinel, 
Agustin Valenzuela, under arrest for permitting the escape. 57 The commander again 
conducted a long, formal inquiry. Nearly a year and a half later, the prisoners received their 
sentences. Espinosa got six years and Altamirano four years at hard labor, both on short 
rations. The soldiers Pinto and Castro received sentences of four years each. 58 Orders called 
for the release of the two negligent guards, although by the time word arrived with this 
decision, they had served more than 15 months in confinement. 59 



55. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 329-31. 

56. Baptized Jose Marcelo Pinto, he came from Sinaloa as a youth with his parents, Pablo Pinto and Francisca 
Xaviera Ruelas. All were part of the second Anza expedition. Josef Mariano Castro also accompanied his parents, 
Joaquin Ysidro Castro and Maria Martina Botiller, and their eight other children when they followed Anza to 
California. Born sometime in the 1760s, he later transferred to the Santa Barbara mission and there married Maria 
Josefa Romero. Espinosa may have been one of Josef Joaquin Cayatano Espinosa and Maria Serafina Lugo's eight 
children. Finally, Altamirano evidently was the son of another couple who came with Anza, Justo Roberto 
Altamirano and Maria Loreto Delfin. This information represents a compilation of Gloria Lawrence, Rudecinda 
Lo Buglio, Bartoleme T. Sepulveda, and Nadine Marcia Vasquez, Antepasados vol. II, Section 2, 3-5; Bancroft, History 
of California, vol. I, 297; Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families, 95; 121-22; 260. 

57. On November 28, 1776, Cordero took Juana Francisca Pinto as his wife, this being the first marriage recorded 
at Mission San Francisco. He came to California as a soldier sometime between 1769 and 1774. Lo Buglio, 
Sepulveda, and Vasquez, "Lista de los Individuos Que Servieron en los Nuevos Establicimentos [sic]," Antepasados, 
vol. II, Section I, 9 and Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 296. Juan Agustin Valenzuela, along with his wife Petra 
Ygnacio de Ochoa and their daughter Maria Zeferina, arrived in California with Anza. "Members of the Second 
Anza Expedition," Antepasados, vol. II, Section II, 5. 

58. After Pinto's release from labor on public works, he returned to plague local authorities. A soldier found the 
paroled man hiding under a bed in his quarters when he came back from duty one afternoon. Evidently, Pinto 
had been having an affair with the soldier's wife and his commander wanted to know what to do with the man. 
In turn, Pinto's mother pled for her son's return to the service. Jose Argiiello to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, 
November 26, 1788, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 250 and Francisca Ruelas to Pedro Fages, San 
Francisco, December 11, 1788, ibid., 251. 

59. Moraga's Report, no place or date; Teodoro de Croix order, Arispe, June 7, 1783, AGN, Ramo de Californias, 
tomo 71, (Microcopy, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.). 

19 



Even while Moraga investigated the 1780 warehouse robbery, he faced other difficulties with 
those under his command. Four soldiers refused to work on construction of a new chapel at 
the post. When Moraga reported the incident, Governor Neve reproached his subordinate for 
negligence in this case and for his general leniency with the men. Moraga denied the charge 
in his reply to the governor. 60 

With such insubordination and problems, the decade of the 1780s saw few improvements to 
the buildings at the Presidio of San Francisco. In a few cases, the soldiers had to build 
palisade huts for their families, when their adobe houses did not stand up well in unfavorable 
weather. By this time, one account indicated that the commandant lived in an adobe while 
four walls of varying heights from 2V2 yards to 4 yards surrounded the compound, which also 
enclosed a stone facility, and palisade-with-earth structures that served as stores, the church, 
and habitations of the garrison. 61 This undistinguished record resulted from a lack of timber 
and rules near the post, poor quality adobe, and a shortage of skilled workmen among the 
15 or 20 soldiers who, with their families, regularly made up the garrison during the late 
1770s and early 1780s. 62 

An increase in personnel seemed desirable in order to accomplish all the tasks assigned to the 
post. In 1781, proposed new regulations for the government of California called for an 
increase in the strength of the garrison to a lieutenant, a sub-lieutenant, a sergeant, four 
corporals, and 26 men. 63 But the major change affecting the men of the Presidio of San 
Francisco involved the method of supplying California. As before, the governor submitted an 
annual memoria of all supplies needed to the viceroy. Goods shipped from San Bias then went 
to soldiers and servants in lieu of payment for their salaries. Prior to 1781, the government 
made a 150 percent profit on commodities sent to California. The new reglamento reformed 
the system to one where the government supplied goods at cost in San Bias, and then made 
no charge for transporting them to California ports. To offset the reduction in prices to the 



60. Felipe de Neve to Jose Moraga, Monterey, February 17, 1780; Moraga to Neve, San Francisco, February 29, 
1780, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, I, 324. 

61. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Jose Antonio Romeu, San Francisco, March 4, 1792, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, XI, 49 and XI, 55. 

62. For instance, in 1777, San Francisco had a lieutenant, a sergeant, four corporals, and 29 privates on the rolls, 
but of these only 19 actually could be found at the post with the rest scattered at the missions, pueblo, and on other 
duties. Beilharz, Felipe de Neve, 79 and 84. In 1781, that figure rose to a lieutenant, sergeant, four corporals, and 
26 soldiers. Report of Jose Moraga, San Francisco, October 4, 1781, Archives of California, Presidios, XXI, 32. Reports 
for three years later indicate the same number, with the exception of an additional officer, an alferez, in this case 
Ramon Lasso. Moraga remained as commander, Juan Pablo Grijalva was sergeant, the corporals were Valerio de 
Mesa, Joaquin Alvarez, Juan Jose Peralta, and Mariano Cordero. The remainder of the force, all privates, consisted 
of Ramon Bojorques, Juan Antonio Amezquita, Ignacio Linares, Justo Altamirano, Antonio Acevez, Phelipe Tapia, 
Agustin Valenzuela, Ignacio de Soto, Pedro Bojorques, Jose Valencia, Juan Bernal, Manuel Arellano, Nicolas 
Galindo, Ignacio Higuera, Phelipe Ochoa, Ignacio Castro, Jose Gonzalez, Miguel Pacheco, Manuel Figuroa, 
Salvador Espinosa, Alejo Miranda, Nicolas Berreyesa, Pedro Peralta, Gabriel Moraga, Ignacio Pacheco, and 
Francisco Bernal. Invdlido (retired or disabled veteran) Corporal Gabriel Bernal resided in San Jose and Soldado 
Pedro Peralta served on detached duty at Monterey. Jose Moraga Reports, San Francisco, February 1, 1784, May 
1, 1784, and July 1, 1784, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 38, 189, and 211-12. Of 
these men, from fifteen to twenty supposedly remained at the Presidio while the rest formed contingents at San 
Jose and the two missions. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 472. 

63. Beilharz, Felipe de Neve, 91. For further details see Johnson, Reglamento para el Gobierno de la Provincia de 
Californias. 

20 



soldiers, the government cut pay scales for most ranks by an average of 40 percent, yet 
buying power essentially increased. Under the new scheme, commissary prices went down 
by 60 percent. Moreover, the habilitado replaced the old guardalmacen, or storekeeper, who took 
care of receiving and distributing all pay and supplies. He handled the dual role of finance 
officer and quartermaster. This meant that he assumed responsibility for keeping the company 
accounts, for which he received 2 percent of the goods under his care. Each year, the habilitado 
made a list of all the articles needed for the soldiers and their dependents that could not be 
obtained in the region. These orders went forward to Mexico every spring. Officials made 
deductions from the appropriation for drafts on the royal treasury used in funding supplies 
in California. Agents then purchased the goods as specified in memoria from Mexico and 
shipped the items via San Bias. The regular receipts, together with occasional ones, were kept 
where collected, and an equivalent amount deducted from the individual company's 
appropriation. Each presidio received equal amounts, but because San Francisco usually had 
the fewest men assigned to it, more often than not the balance proved more favorable to this 
northern garrison than for its three Alta California counterparts to the south. 64 Finally, the 
habilitado took charge of collecting tithes, money for postal services, and funds for the 
government tobacco monopoly. 

Men of each presidial company chose the habilitado from among their own junior officers. The 
troops doubtlessly made the selection with some care because they would be held responsible 
for any shortfalls in the garrison's ledgers. 65 

Lieutenant Moraga assumed the job at San Francisco. Moraga, no doubt, found little to be 
happy about in terms of these reforms since, although the reglamento called for a 50 peso 
annual increase to 550 pesos, he already received 700 per year, and the governor even had 
requested the viceroy raise Moraga's salary to 1,000 pesos per year. 66 

Still, he had to be content with his lot since the cost of living dictated the pay of the soldiers 
in California. Regulations provided that goods supplied to them would be charged to the 
soldiers' wages. The government had an interest in keeping prices low. Officials judged price- 
fixing necessary in order to be fair to both producers and consumers alike. 67 The keeping of 
such outstanding debts in the presidial ledgers began to present a problem at San Francisco. 
The governor sent his adjutant-inspector to the post to check on the accounts of the acting 
habilitado, Lieutenant Moraga. 68 



64. On the other hand, it appears that the home government compensated for this paper advantage by sending 
fewer supplies to San Francisco, since the inventories for 1788 and 1789 consistently indicate smaller batches of 
goods going to San Francisco than to the other three presidios. Microcopy, AGN, Californias, tomo XXVII, passim. 
Likewise, this was the case in 1790. Goods and money sent to the Presidio in that year amounted to less than 4800 
pesos. Don Jose de Arvide to Viceroy, Mexico, December 29, 1790, Microcopy, AGN, Californias, tomo LXX. 

65. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 333-35. 

66. Governor Neve to Viceroy Bucareli, Monterey, June 4, 1777; Felipe de Neve to Teodoro de Croix, Monterey, 
December 28, 1778, Archives of California, Provincial Records, XXII, 78 and 103. 

67. Sanford Mosk, "Price Fixing in California," XVII California Historical Society Quarterly no. 2 (June 1938): 118-22 
offers additional insight into this system. 

68. Governor Neve to Adjutant-Inspector Nicolas Soler, San Gabriel, August 4. 1782, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, II, 22. 

21 



In the same year, 1782, a royal order also officially conferred the rank of lieutenant on 
Moraga, a rank and pay he had held as long as he had been in California serving with the 
Company of the Presidio of San Francisco. Previously, he had been listed as an alferez, or 
ensign, in the Company of the Presidio of Fronteras. 69 The crown likewise managed to 
finally approve a $1,200 expenditure for the Presidio of San Francisco's construction some six 
years after the fact. As this amount had been spent long before, the troops and servants 
would be reimbursed for their labors. 70 Consequently, in many instances, big and small, the 
home government moved at a snail's pace. 

In certain matters, however, local authorities reacted swiftly. Indians near San Jose began to 
steal horses from the settlers early in the following year. In January 1783, the new governor 
of California, Pedro Fages, who returned as a lieutenant colonel, marched against them. He 
killed two Indians and frightened the rest to the degree that this harsh treatment halted 
further thefts. Another three of the Indians caught killing some of the settlers' horses went 
to the Presidio of San Francisco to work under guard for 15 to 20 days. Every third day 
soldiers flogged the prisoners as part of the sentence. 71 

The rest of 1783 proved less eventful, although activities at the Presidio warranted two ships 
instead of the usual one per year. In June, San Carlos and Favorita arrived in the harbor with 
supplies for the district. 72 Two new soldiers reported as transfers from Monterey to San 
Francisco. One of them, Luis Peralta, eventually reached the rank of sergeant in the presidial 
company. 73 Moraga notified the governor that he was releasing Peralta from his sentence. 
The records do not indicate on what charge Peralta had been convicted. Moraga also enclosed 
a petition with his letter to Governor Fages asking permission for Peralta to get married. A 
short two months later the fickle soldier married a different girl from the one named in his 
original request. 

While Peralta's original intended probably bore something less than affection for her former 
suitor, her feelings paled by way of comparison with the ill-will that grew between the 
missionaries and the military personnel of the Presidio. This long-simmering feud came to a 
head in 1784 and 1785. Governor Fages, who had clashed with Padre Serra during his earlier 
assignment to California, made complaints that the priests had refused to provide chaplain's 
services at the San Francisco garrison for more than two years. The Franciscans replied to this 



69. Pablo Avila, trans., "Moraga Commissioned Lieutenant," XXVII California Historical Society Quarterly no. 1 
(March 1948): 63. 

70. Teodoro de Croix to Felipe de Neve, Arispe, July 19, 1782, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, II, 
231. 

71. Jose Moraga to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, February 13, 1783, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
II, 361; Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 479-80. 

72. Jose Moraga to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, June 3, 1783, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, II, 403. 

73. Luis Maria Peralta, a native of Tubac, was born in 1759, and came to California with Anza while still a 
teenager. He enlisted in the Monterey presidial company in the early 1780s and transferred to San Francisco in 
1784. In addition to escolta duty, he served as comisionado (military liaison) to the Pueblo of San Jose until the end 
of the Spanish regime. He eventually fathered 17 children. In 1820, the Spanish crown gave him a grazing license 
for Rancho San Antonio, in the east bay. He received official title to the land in 1823. His sons occupied the grant 
while Peralta spent his retirement years in San Jose. The elder Peralta died from influenza on August 26, 1851. J. 
N. Bowman, "The Peraltas and Their Houses," XXX California Historical Quarterly no. 3 (September 1951): 217-19. 

22 



charge that until 1784, when a new post chapel was readied, they had no suitable place to say 
mass. Furthermore, the soldiers' claims for their regular services at the Presidio offended the 
priests who contended that their duties did not include attending to the spiritual needs of the 
post. Likewise, the friars asserted soldiers could come to the nearby mission for the 
sacraments. After the chapel was completed, the missionaries occasionally visited the Presidio 
for liturgy and to minister to the garrison. The viceroy later directed that the padres be 
compensated with an allowance for their extra labors. Several times during the year 1784 
Governor Fages visited San Francisco, possibly to enquire into the controversy. 74 

While the chapel completion seemed to solve the rift to some degree between clergy and 
military, other sections of the post did not fare as well. Early in 1784, a gale blew down one 
corner of the presidial square. Moraga's effort to build a guardhouse during the same year 
came to a similar end, when the strong winds of October destroyed the partially completed 
structure because the men wanted for proper material to tie down the roof and brace the 
walls. 75 

Also in 1784, a sailor from Princesa, whose service had expired aboard ship, joined the 
Presidio as a schoolmaster. 76 His efforts to provide education proved of little avail. Literacy, 
although a requirement for advancement through the ranks, was not common. For instance, 
just a year after the new teacher arrived still only seven of the 30 men assigned to the 
Company of the Presidio of San Francisco could read. In 1791, the statistics indicated that 
only two out of the 28 enlisted personnel could read, while in 1794, records revealed that 
none of the soldiers in the ranks could write. 77 As a consequence, Moraga and a select few 
took on the tedious business of record keeping in multiple copies. 

These and many other tasks occupied Moraga as San Francisco's 

first comandante, a position he faithfully executed until his death on July 13, 1785. On that day, 
the command passed to Lieutenant Diego Gonzalez, who reported from Monterey, while the 
alferez of the company, Ramon Lasso de la Vega, became the new habilitado. 78 Both of these 
men experienced considerable trouble during their assignments at San Francisco. Before 
coming to his new post, Gonzalez had been arrested once for a variety of minor offenses. At 
San Francisco he continued his irregular conduct despite reprimands and warnings from the 



74. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 401-2, 473. Bancroft also indicates that Fages's daughter was born in San 
Francisco during one of his visits in 1784. 

75. Ibid., vol. I, 472; Moraga also requested shutters for the guardhouse. Jose Moraga to Pedro Fages, San 
Francisco, December 23, 1784, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, III, 117. 

76. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 473-74. 

77. Beilharz, Felipe de Neve, 74-75. 

78. Gonzalez arrived in California as part of reinforcements in 1781. He came to Monterey where he served as 
the commanding lieutenant until his 1785 transfer to San Francisco. Gonzalez remained comandante there through 
1787, when he replaced Jose Ortega on frontier duty. Evidently this assignment came as a punishment for his 
various indiscretions. Supposedly he tended to gamble, to be insubordinate, and to engage in smuggling. 
Consequently, he was removed from the rolls in 1793. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 342; 467-68; and vol. 
Ill, 760. Ramon Lasso de la Vega came to California from Mexico in 1781. He married Moraga's widow on 
February 29, 1792, at Mission San Carlos, ibid., vol. IV, 708 and Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families, 211. 

23 



governor. Finally, Nicolas Soler, the adjutant-inspector, ordered Gonzalez's confinement. After 
two or three months under house arrest, Gonzalez went to Sonora. 79 

Unfortunately, Lasso, the habilitado, likewise proved unqualified for his post. He could not 
keep his accounts in order. Contemporaries described him as being careless and stupid. Soler 
recommended clemency since apparently Lasso's continued deficits stemmed from poor 
record keeping rather than dishonesty. In 1782 he had lost $800 during a temporary term as 
habilitado. Five years later, an audit revealed an additional discrepancy of several hundred 
pesos. Then, Soler relieved Lasso from his duties. For the next four years he received only 25 
cents a day on which to live. The rest of his pay went to pay off his debt. When the 
government obtained most of the money due it, his superiors dismissed Lasso from the 
service. Subsequently, the crown granted him retirement on half pay. In the next decade 
Lasso made his living as a schoolmaster in San Jose. It is to be hoped the curriculum did not 
include arithmetic! 80 

Lasso's problems would have increased had he remained as habilitado during the rest of the 
decade because in 1786 the presidios of California became centers of a brief Spanish interest 
in the fur trade, which presaged the future importance of this commodity. The viceroy 
decreed a plan whereby any Spaniard or mission Indian who acquired an otter pelt would 
sell it at a fixed price to a corporal or pueblo alcalde (akin to the town mayor). The skins would 
be turned over to the commanding officers of the presidios, who would ship them to San Bias 
on the empty supply ships. From San Bias the pelts would be sent on the Manila galleons to 
China, where they would be traded for quicksilver to be used in the silver mines of New 
Spain. Within the first three months after the plan's initiation, a thousand otter pelts went 
from California. One year later, the habilitados were put in charge of the otter skin purchasing. 
They exchanged goods for the pelts. In 1790, the government abandoned the idea when it 
decided that the cost of the project outweighed the profits. 81 

Even while the experiment in international trade went forward, the Presidio's new habilitado 
experienced other problems during 1787. Alferez Hermenegildo Sal, who had replaced Lasso, 
as well as doubled as acting comandante at that time, faced censure because of certain 
disciplinary breaches. 82 He received a warning from Captain Soler about the shortcomings 



79. Captain Soler came to California as ayudante-inspector during 1781. Soler held the post until friction between 
him and Governor Fages caused him to be summoned to Arizpe where he then received orders to assume 
command at the Presidio of San Agustin del Tucson. He remained there until his death, possibly at the hands of 
the Apaches. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 397-98; vol. V, 727; Dobyns, Spanish Colonial Tucson, 95-96; 201 
no. 73, and James E. Officer, Hispanic Arizona 1536-185 (Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1989), 66; 346 
n. 39. 

80. Ramon Lasso to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, February 4 and 18, 1787; Nicolas Soler to Pedro Fages, San 
Francisco, July 13, 1787, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 99, 100, and 123-25; Governor Fages to 
Commandant-General Ugarte, Monterey, May 11, 1798, ibid. II, 353; Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 470-72. 

81. Adele Ogden, "The Californias in Spain's Pacific Otter Trade, 1775-1795," I The Pacific Historical Review no. 4 
(December 1932): 445-56. 

82. Born about 1746 at Valdemora, Toledo, Spain, Sal served as the presidio's guardalmacen (storekeeper) leaving 
Monterey where he first was mentioned on May 30, 1775. However, he was not part of Anza's Second Expedition. 
Sal remained in this position until 1782, in that year being promoted to alferez. He married Maria Josefa Amesquita, 
a native of Tubac, on May 16, 1777, the ceremony taking place at Mission Dolores. They had eight children before 
she died in 1798, just months after the birth of their last baby. She would be buried at Mission San Carlos as 

24 



at the San Francisco post. Soler wrote Sal that henceforth the soldiers would wear their proper 
uniforms. This prescription presented a problem at times since clothing, cloth, and tailors 
were not readily available in the region. Furthermore, the officers at the Presidio would no 
longer use soldiers as personal servants. In another letter, Governor Fages directed Sal to be 
more careful about preventing illegal trade with the supply ships. He was not to pay the 
troops when a ship was expected, so that none of the men could buy liquor from the 
sailors. 83 

Captain Soler's dicta to Sal stemmed from his office as official inspector. In 1787, he came to 
San Francisco in an attempt to set the situation right there after Gonzalez's and Lasso's poor 
handling of the post. While in the vicinity, Soler likewise found that dampness had damaged 
some of the powder stored at the installation. Consequently, he ordered the construction of 
a magazine to protect the gunpowder from the weather, which he himself complained about 
to such an extent that he asked permission to quit the post. 84 

Some of the powder thus stored could be used for much-needed target practice, as the local 
troops found little opportunity to use their firearms. In 1789, the word came for the latest 
commander, Jose Dario Arguello, to have his men train with their weapons from two to three 
times per week. 85 Likewise, the troops supposedly drilled as a regular part of their regimen. 
Once a week, they were to be reviewed both at the Presidio and the missions to demonstrate 
their martial abilities, although actually, other obligations often made it impossible for them 
to handle their weapons or attend religious services for much of the time. 86 

These conflicting activities included protecting the missions and missionaries with small 
detachments or escoltas. Soldiers assisted in overseeing the neophytes at their daily chores and 
kept guard even during church services. The corporal sometimes served as the mission's 
mayordomo and took charge of criminal justice, punishing minor offenses, making 



would Sal after his death in 1800. He had retired in that year as a captain, having served at both San Francisco 
and Monterey in various positions of responsibility. Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families, 271-72. 

83. Nicolas Soler to Hermenegildo Sal, San Francisco, February 20, 1787, and Pedro Fages to Hermenegildo Sal, 
Monterey, January 12, 1788, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, IV, 169 and 172. 

84. Nicolas Soler to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, May 31, and June 18, 1787, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, IV, 118 and 138. 

85. Jose Arguello to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, March 26, 1789, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, V, 
84. Jose or Josef Dario Arguello was born sometime in 1753 or 1754 in Queretero, Mexico. He became a soldier 
of the Regiment of Dragoons of Mexico on September 20, 1772, thereafter serving in expeditions against the 
Apaches and helping to found settlements along the Colorado River. Eight years after entering the military, he 
married Maria Ygnacia Moraga, the niece of Jose Joaquin Moraga, around 1780, at El Altar, Sonora. They would 
have 13 children. On July 14, 1781, Alferez Arguello arrived in San Gabriel. He assisted in the founding of pueblos 
in Los Angeles and Santa Buenaventura. On February 9, 1787, he gained promotion to lieutenant and eventually 
reached captain on December 1, 1806. In California, he first served at the Presidio of Santa Barbara, being posted 
there even before the fort's construction. Arguello remained at Santa Barbara as alferez until his promotion to 
lieutenant took him to San Francisco as commandant. His tenure lasted until 1806 when, as a captain, he left and 
took command of Santa Barbara from 1807 through 1815. From July 24, 1814 through August 30, 1815, he served 
as governor ad interim of Alta California and then became governor of Baja California, from 1815 through 1822. 
He retired in 1822 in Guadalajara where he died sometime between 1827 and 1829. December 31, 1790, Hoja de 
servicios de Jose Arguello, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Benicia, XV, 286-287; Northrop, Spanish- 
Mexican Families, 40-41; Nuttall, "Gobernantes of Upper California": 278-79. 

86. Beilharz, Felipe de Neve, 74-75. 

25 



investigations, and sending periodic reports and suspects for more serious matters to the 
Presidio. 87 

At the mission, soldiers lived in a common barracks arrangement if single, and in small 
quarters if married. Bachelors gave their rations to the spouses of their married comrades. The 
wives prepared the meals, as well as assisted with other domestic chores. The same 
circumstances existed at the Presidio of San Francisco. 

If not sent to the mission, soldiers carried on numerous other tasks. A noncommissioned 
officer (comisionado) provided a similar function for the Pueblo of San Jose to that of the 
corporals overseeing the mission escoltas. 88 Other men carried messages, dispatches, and the 
mail, much as pony express riders would in a later era. 89 Some guarded officials as they 
traveled in the district or looked after prisoners assigned to public works. Sentry duty, usually 
given out as a punitive measure to those who had committed some minor infraction, was a 
regular requirement with an average stint being three hours at a time. Exploration parties and 
expeditions against the local Indians took up considerable energies, too. 

When not occupied in strictly martial pursuits, the men watched over the growing herds of 
livestock at the rancho del rey, their vaquero functions extending to roundups, branding, 
castrating bulls, and slaughtering. Likewise, they maintained plots for vegetables, as well as 
worked at various other food production related tasks. 90 They gathered wood and performed 
different jobs to help maintain their families. Those with the skills of carpenters, smiths, 
tailors, shoemakers, and potters found ample extra work as these craftspeople were in short 
supply in California. Individuals without specialized trades might hire on as common 
laborers, although much of this type of work went to prisoners or Indians who performed 



87. Amador, "Memorias," 4. The men tended to dislike this assignment,however, despite extra bonuses. Neither 
the monotonous routine nor the often strict discipline of the Franciscans appealed to them. The padres, in turn, 
complained about the quality of the troops. According to the priest, the soldiers consistently ignored all 
admonitions to provide good examples to the Indians. They accused the men of drinking, gambling, selling their 
equipment, and pursuing the Indian women. Moreover, the missionaries contended the soldados were lazy. Hubert 
Howe Bancroft, California Pastoral, 1769-1848 (San Francisco, Calif.: A. L. Bancroft Company, 1888), 239-40; 299; 
Beilharz, Felipe de Neve, 77. 

88. Sometimes problems arose between the military and townsmen. A settler went into the stocks at the presidio 
guardhouse after assaulting the corporal of the guard at Pueblo San Jose. The fight started after the corporal 
accused the settler of taking improper care of the village's horses. The commander received a reprimand for jailing 
the civilian and the corporal an admonishment not to threaten people with his sword in the future. Diego 
Gonzalez to Pedro Fages, San Francisco, December 27, 1787, and Nicolas Soler to Pedro Fages, January 12, 1788, 
Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, IV, 136-37. The dates of these two letters may have been in error as 
it seems that Gonzalez had left San Francisco by this time. 

89. In regard to post offices, each presidio maintained one and charged a set rate of two silver reales an ounce for 
mail. Cabellero de Croix to Felipe de Neve, Arizpe, March 18, 1781, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, LIV, 335. 

90. During the Spanish regime, each presidio maintained a rancho del rey, the earliest in San Francisco being on 
the Presidio reserve, at first, until relocation, in the 1780s, to San Mateo County. This establishment provided fresh 
meat to the troops and their families. The hides and the tallow obtained from the cattle later served as a valuable 
source for trade. Before that, the various tasks of taking care of the herds and slaughtering the animals caused the 
government to consider hiring vaqueros, sheepherders, and butchers so that the soldados would be relieved of 
nonmilitary details. This well-intentioned plan never matured into reality. Real Tribuno y Audencia de la 
Contaduria Mayor de Cuentas to the Viceroy, Mexico City, November 18, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial 
State Papers, VII, 397-404. 

26 



either for pay or as unpaid captives. Moreover, if a soldado distinguido had to do fatigue duty, 
he supposedly received an additional bonus of ten reales in advance. At a later date, when 
some men refused to do such manual labor because Argiiello did not have the funds to pay 
them, the comandante placed the strikers in the stocks. Evidently, they did not remain there 
for very long, especially since one of those who led the "no pay, no work" faction was 
Argiiello's young brother-in-law. 91 

With many problems, the grand vision for the Presidio of San Francisco waned as the decade 
of the 1780s came to an end. Its defects as a barren site with harsh climate and remote 
location from the rest of New Spain weighed heavily against the garrison's success. In fact, 
the adjutant-inspector of California even advocated the abandonment of the site but this 
suggestion went unheeded. 92 The need for an outpost to protect the northernmost missions 
and the strategic position of San Francisco Bay made it impossible to entertain the withdrawal 
of the troops. Yet, after more than a dozen years of precarious existence, San Francisco stood 
as an impotent sign of defense rather than a bastion of empire. Subsequent events would 
expose the sham in the not-too-distant future. 



91. Amador, "Memorias/' 204-205. Argiiello's brother-in-law, Domingo Sal, also was related to Hermenegildo Sal. 
Officers and soldiers alike tended to marry the relations and offspring of their comrades, although records indicate 
that at least in two or three instances enlisted men took Indian women as wives. 

92. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 394. 

27 



CHAPTER 2 
THE APPEARANCE OF DURABILITY, 1791-1800 



After halting beginnings during its first years of existence, the 1790s would prove the most 
important decade during the Spanish years of occupation at the Presidio of San Francisco. 
Much of the activity that took place during this dynamic period stemmed from a long- 
standing feud between Spain and Great Britain, which dated back to the 16th century and the 
days of the Great Armada. Centuries later, the two nations found themselves at opposite sides 
of the field during the Revolutionary War, when the Spaniards chose to ally themselves with 
their French cousins on the side of the 13 American colonies. In addition to committing 
money to the war venture, King Carlos Hi's forces also attacked British outposts in the 
Floridas, which had been ceded to Great Britain at the end of the Seven Years' War. After the 
Revolution, the relationship between Spain and Great Britain in North America fluctuated 
uneasily between rivalry in territorial ambitions and cooperation in their fervent distrust of 
American radicalism. 1 

By the 1780s, the Spanish-British competition again flared. This time, their rivalry revolved 
around Nootka Sound, far to the north of San Francisco in the Gulf of Alaska. Both Madrid 
and London made claims and counterclaims to the area in a heated diplomatic exchange. 
Finally, under the terms of a convention signed in October 1790, the Spanish reluctantly 
withdrew from Nootka, thereby making the Presidio of San Francisco the northernmost 
outpost of their empire on the Pacific Coast. 

With wounded pride, the Spaniards regrouped their forces around San Francisco Bay. 2 
International politics had entered firmly into the peaceful world of the San Francisco harbor. 
The tensions aroused by these national ambitions and international antagonism would not 
leave the area in peace again for quite some time. 

In response to loss of the Nootka Sound, Spanish officials in Monterey and the viceroy of 
New Spain determined to secure their territory that stretched from San Diego to San 
Francisco. The diplomatic incident had exacerbated what one historian called Spain's 
"paranoic fear that California, their buffer Borderland province, was to be wrested away from 
them by the imperialistic Russians or English." 3 



1. Wright, Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America, xii, 108-110, 138, and 144. 

2. In May 1789, Esteban Jose Martinez, in command of Princesa and San Carlos, arrived at Nootka to fortify the 
harbor, ostensibly against Russians. Upon Martinez's arrival, he found five foreign vessels riding at anchor, 
including a pair from Great Britain. One of the English captains, James Colnelt, contended the area belonged to 
his country, based upon the 1778 voyage of Captain James Cook. Conversely, Martinez asserted that Spain 
rightfully owned the region because Juan Perez discovered Nootka in 1774. As a result of these conflicting 
assertions, war clouds gathered. Diplomacy prevailed, however. With the establishment of the Nootka Convention 
of October 18, 1790, Spain ultimately withdrew to California, again making San Francisco her northernmost base 
of military strength. For an overview on the topic see Oakah L. Jones, "The Spanish Occupation of Nootka Sound, 
1790-1795," (Master's thesis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, 1960) and Iris H. Wilson Engstrand, ed., Noticias 
de Nutka: An Account of Nootka Sound in 1792 by }ose Mariano Mozino (Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas & Mclntyre, 1991). 
For a summary of the event and its relationship to California read Florian Guest, "The Establishment of Villa 
Branciforte," XLI California Historical Quarterly no. 1 (March 1962): 29-50. 

3. Janet R. Fireman, The Spanish Corps of Royal Engineers in the Western Borderlands Instrument of Bourbon Reform 
(Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1977), 113. 

29 



Despite intentions to build up a martial presence in the Bay Area, progress to this end came 
slowly. In fact, 1791 started very much like previous years. Half of the soldiers served at the 
missions of Santa Clara and San Francisco as well as the civilian settlement at San Jose, while 
the rest kept busy with routines at or near the Presidio itself. There, the walls and the 
buildings required considerable renovation. The governor felt that two factors, a shortage of 
wood and a lack of skilled workmen and proper supervision, precluded improvements. 4 

The governor's report could have added that the numerous duties that occupied the time of 
the soldiers likewise restricted their availability as laborers for construction. At least some of 
their burdens lightened in March 1791 when orders from Mexico City called for the 
abandonment of the rancho del rey. Evidently, the local Franciscans had complained that the 
royal ranch infringed on the interest of the Mission San Francisco. Some 1,200 cattle 
previously pastured around the Presidio went to Monterey. For the next few years, most of 
the beef needed for meat had to be driven from Monterey, or, periodically, the garrison 
purchased cattle and sheep from the mission. Nonetheless, the soldiers kept some cows for 
milk and other uses, a few sheep, and their horses. An inventory of livestock taken two years 
after the closure of the rancho indicated that the presidial company retained 115 head of stock, 
298 sheep, and 17 mares. The largest stockholder, soldado Juan Bernal, boasted 23 cattle and 
246 sheep. 5 Sergeant Pedro Amador came next with 13 cattle and 52 sheep, while the 
comandante of the time had only five cattle and three mares. 6 Most of the other soldiers 
averaged a half-dozen animals apiece. 7 

During the period of the rancho's transfer, Lieutenant Jose Argiiello also relocated to 
Monterey, where he remained as acting commander for some time. In fact, Hermenegildo Sal 
and Jose Perez Fernandez held Argiiello's old assignment as commandant from 1791 through 
1794 and 1794 through 1796 respectively, each doubling in his duties as habilitado charged 
with all financial matters of the presidial district during his respective tenure. 8 



4. Report of Pedro Fages, Monterey, February 26, 1791, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VI, 152-69. 

5. Juan Francisco Bernal accompanied his father and namesake and his mother, Maria Josefa de Soto (Sotomayer), 
to California from his birthplace in Sinaloa as part of Anza's Second Expedition. Born about 1763, he married 
Maria Petronia Gutirrez at Mission Dolores on May 17, 1782. He died in February 1803 and was buried at the same 
mission where he had been wed. The couple had four children, including a son, Juan, who also became a soldier 
at the Presidio of San Francisco. Sons commonly followed in their father's footsteps by enlisting throughout the 
period of both Spain's and Mexico's occupation of the site. Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families, 65-66. 

6. Amador, a native of Nueva Galicia (today's Coahuila), came to California from Mexico with Rivera y Moncada 
in 1769. He did not remain in the region, however, returning after the original expedition to Baja California and 
then to Mexico. During this period his first wife, Maria de la Luz, died, and Amador remarried. His second wife 
and their three children left Loreto, where he had been a sergeant, and made their way to San Francisco for a new 
assignment. The arduous journey north took 2Vz or 3 months. Amador's spouse supposedly put her babies in a 
saddlebag on the back of a mule, two in one side and the third in the other, using a stone in the latter to balance 
out the load. After some 47 years in the king's service, Amador retired around 1800 as a brevet alferez with a 200 
pesos a year pension. During the last decade or so of his life, he failed to receive this money, which proved a 
hardship as he was nearly blind. He died at the pueblo of San Jose on May 8, 1825, according to his son at the ripe 
old age of 99 years and one month. Amador, "Memorias," 1-5. 

7. The above statistics came from Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 707-708; William Halley, The Centennial 
Yearbook of Alameda County, California (Oakland, Calif.: W. Halley, 1876), 27. In 1792, the total number had been 
304 cattle, 261 sheep, and 26 horses. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Romeu, January 1, 1792, San Francisco, Archives 
of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 441. 

8. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 692. 

30 



Much happened during the nearly half-dozen years of Arguello's absence. For one thing, ex- 
Governor Fages made a visit to the Presidio during the spring of 1791 while the supply ship 
Aranzazu arrived that same summer. On September 25, Sal and several soldiers joined a pair 
of padres, a few servants, and some Christian Indians in the dedication of a new mission, 
Santa Cruz, marking the event with a mass, Te Deum, fireworks, and musket salutes. 9 

Not long after this celebration, Sal faced less happy times at his garrison. His 1792 report 
about the Presidio's condition and the accompanying plan told a story of neglect and poor 
construction. (See figure 4.) He wrote: 

The store houses are built of mud without any support [plaster] and therefore 
exposed to rain. 

The guardia [sentry posts], the prison-cells, and the soldiers' houses are in stone and 
adobe; its [the guard- house's] walls are crumbling and for this reason they have put 
in the side of the square [plaza] counterfort [buttresses] of stone to support [the 
walls]. 

The sergeant's house is of stone without support and is falling down. 

The one of the commandant and others are of adobe. The soldiers' dwellings are not 
equal to it. 

All the walls of the church are crumbling and deteriorating and [the cracks] are 
wider in the upper-part than in the lower. All the roofs in what is built of the 
Presidio are of zacate [straw] and rule and are very much exposed to fire, as far as 
the authorities can realize it. 

The winds blow in such a way, in the summer from the northwest, and in the winter 
from the south and northeast, that they are like hurricanes which make notable harm 
in the said roofs and every year one must attend to them with unendless work. 10 

Sal indicated that for most of the time his immediate command included only a sergeant, a 
corporal, and a few guards, the remainder of the contingent being stationed as escoltas for the 
missions or in other pursuits. This included carrying dispatches to Monterey and providing 
detachments for the mail and funds destined to and from the district missions and the 
Presidio of San Francisco. Consequently, Sal requested more troops. Irregular supply 
shipments made matters worse. 



9. Ibid., 493-95. 

10. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Jose Antonio Romeu, San Francisco, March 4, 1792, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, XI, 49 and 55. This translation was extracted from one made by Mother Dolores Sarre, San 
Francisco College for Women. 

31 



Figure 4. Acting Commandant Hermenegildo Sal sent a plan of the Presidio with a report to 
Governor Jose Antonio Romeu on March 4, 1792. The legend translates: 

Scaled drawing showing the rooms of the Presidio of San Francisco. 

No. 1 Guard room being 6 1/4 varas long, 4 1/2 varas wide, and 3 1/2 varus high. 

2 Soldiers' barracks: 16 varas long, 3 1/2 varas high, and 4 1/2 varas wide. 

3 Jail cells, 2 varas high, 2 varas long and 11/2 varas and 4 wide. 

5 Clothing warehouse, 18 varas long, 4 1/2 varas high, and 6 zwras wide. 

6 The same for provisions [provisions' warehouse], 18 varas long, 4 1/2 varas 
high, and 6 iwras wide. 

7 Quarters of the Commandant, 37 1 /2 paras long, 6 i>aras and 8 ide, and 4 
1/2 paras high. 

10 Chapel, 19 paras long, 8 varas wide, and 4 1/2 varas high. 

11 Casemate, 4 paras square and 2 1/2 paras high. 

9 Sergeant's Quarters. From a to k, habitations of the soldiers. 

A copy taken from the original, [above north facade] This facade 116 varas looking to the 
north, [beside west facade] This facade is 120 varas looking to the west." 

It should be noted that the east side of the quadrangle had no buildings at this point, but a 
crude brush work ran along this side to complete the enclosure of the plaza. Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley, Calif. 



32 




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33 



Then, Sal went on to describe the long history of problems with the post's construction. He 
recorded: 

I am eye witness that this presidio was begun on July 27th, 1776 [Moraga stated July 
26] and at the end of 78 the house of Commandant was in adobe; one wall of 4 
yards, height; a second 3 yards, the third 2 1/2; and the fourth also 2 1/2. The 
[illegible] house in stone, stores, church and habitations for the church in palisade 
and earth. During a rain fall in the month of February 1779, the stores, the slaughter 
house, the church, the house of the commandant and of the troops and the greatest 
part of four pieces of wall fell, in such a way that at the end of the year 80, none of 
the houses built in the year 78 were standing. The lack of intelligent workers for the 
construction and direction of the works contributed much to this; and at present they 
are still lacking. 

The adobe is bad in itself because of the dampness it crumbles; and thus, it is 
indispensable that the roofs in the South end and in the Southwest side cover 
[protect] the greatest part of the walls. 

The lumber is found at a distance of more than ten leagues and if everything is 
favorable a trip may be made every week and this is not in all seasons of the year. 

One can well inform the authorities of what has ben done in certain occasions in this 
Presidio with what stands actually, considering that in the year 80 and 81 the 
soldiers built again houses of the palisade to shelter themselves and their families. 11 

Sal added that, in 1792, troops began reconstruction of the north wall (lienzo or piece of wall) 
of palisade once more, while "no more than six houses" plus the comandancia "which was built 
the year before" remained "in useful condition." Frustrated, Sal made his letter read more as 
an indictment of a remiss colonial government than as an official report. He concluded with 
the sentence, "All this that I manifest and expose is notorious and therefore, I sign it." 12 

Later, Sal asked for 10 sailor-workmen along with a carpenter to set things right. 13 While no 
succor came from Monterey, Sal continued to lament the situation to his superior, but to no 
avail. 

In late 1792, he announced that the troops had completed renovations at the post with the 
building of a wall of 26 varas to close the section from the commander's house to the 
storehouse. They likewise finished roofs for the church and storehouse and for nine dwellings 
for the troops. Unfortunately, the rains continued to make short work of things, thereby 
exposing several of the families to the elements and requiring the replacement of the second- 
in-command's quarters. 14 



11. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Jose Antonio Romeu, San Francisco, March 4, 1792, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, XI, 39 and 55. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 695-96. 

14. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, November 29, 1792, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Sacramento, XIV, 119. 

34 



On December 29, 1792, Sal wrote Arrillaga, "The labor spent on the Presidio is incredible and 
yet there are now but slightly more or less [buildings] than at first." He indicated that "three 
Memos [protective walls] exist, but in one single parapet. In the first lienzo are the warehouses, 
guardia [guardhouse] and cuartel [barracks], which are crumbling." He went on to state "I 
have found none who knew how to place a stone or adobe." Further, Sal said that the second 
line consisted of the comandancia, three soldiers' quarters, and the dwelling of the second 
officer, his, which was about to tumble down while the others required considerable repair. 
Along the third lienzo (section of the quadrangle) were the chapel and eight residences for 
troopers. The former edifice had no foundation and the walls were wider at the top than the 
bottom. The church and the domiciles on this third side needed to be raised and rebuilt with 
more stable coverings than the straw and tule then in use. The fourth side, a palisade, was 
new and in good repair, while only six of the quarters, including the new commander's 
house, built in 1791, remained in a serviceable state. While crews from visiting vessels usually 
aided in construction, none regularly called at San Francisco. The 1,200 pesos allotment for the 
place fell far short of the 4,000 provided to the other outposts in California. Sal asked for eight 
to 10 workers from San Bias, including a master bricklayer, "to help set things right once and 
for all, or an additional appropriation of 3,000 pesos be sent to hire Indian labor. 15 

Eventually, Sal's requests received some attention as circumstances changed. For one thing, 
during the fall of 1792, unidentified ships began to appear outside of the entrance to San 
Francisco Bay. In the late summer of 1792, Sal ordered what may well be considered the only 
shots fired against a perceived threat to the Spanish occupants, when an unidentified vessel 
dared to anchor just outside the harbor. Whether he brought his fieldpiece out from the 
Presidio to the Cantil Blanco or some other vantage point to provide this salvo is not known. 
Suffice it to say, this hollow gesture meant nothing to the mystery ship. The crew did not 
identify themselves and remained in place until the next day when they sailed away. 16 A 
Spanish craft, Saturnina, arrived thereafter, coming from San Bias and anchoring at San 
Francisco with dispatches for Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, the Spanish 
commissioner at Nootka. 17 After a month of waiting for Bodega y Quadra, Saturnina left for 
Monterey, since word came that the commissioner went directly to Monterey. Another time, 



15. Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio State Papers, tomo XI, 54-58, Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s (Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.). These were some of the materials transcribed from original 
Spanish and Mexican regime records used to produce Bancroft's various publications. Hereafter referred to as 
Bancroft Reference Notes. 

16. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, September 9, 1792, San Francisco, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 70-72. Details about the precise date and the actual location from where Sal had the salvo 
fired are unknown. 

17. A criollo born in Peru, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra gained the captaincy of Sonora in March 1775, 
when he sailed that craft from San Bias northward, under orders of Viceroy Bucareli. He made his way to Alaskan 
waters, going as far as approximately 58 degrees latitude. Having succeeded in this venture, the officer rose to 
the rank of teniente de navio and received another assignment to go to sea on further northern explorations as 
skipper of La Favorita, in early 1779. Thereafter, "With the exception of one European tour of service from 1783 to 
1789, Bodega y Quadra was attached to the Naval Department of San Bias, where he cheerfully accepted Pacific 
Coast duty." Thurman, Naval Department of San Bias, 151; 165; 171-79; 185; and 250-51. For more on the expeditions 
to the far north read Christon I. Archer, "Spanish Exploration and Settlement of the Northwest Coast in the 18th 
Century," VII Sound Heritage no. 1: 33-53. 

35 



the garrison gave a four-gun salute to what they believed to be the frigate Aranzazu. To this, 
they received no reply nor would they from another vessel thought to be of British origin. 18 

Even providing these salutes presented a problem to Sal and his men because only one 
cannon existed in good repair at the post. During a July 1792 commemoration of a saint's 
feast day, the other of the two guns at the Presidio exploded into 10 pieces, some of which 
flew as far as 125 yards. Fortunately, no one sustained injuries, but the outpost lost a valuable 
and not easily replaced weapon. 19 Later that year, Sal noted that he had only one old cannon 
left and required powder for this piece, which he obtained from Saturnina. More important, 
he really needed from 10 to 12 guns to be emplaced on Anza's Cantil Blanco in order to keep 
the English threat away from San Francisco. 20 To obtain so many additional guns would 
have presented great difficulties, however, since the Spanish had supplied California with 
only "twenty-three bronze cannons, large and small" as part of the stores brought along with 
Portola. 21 These few weapons, many of which may have been of considerable age and well 
worn, provided the basic supply for the four Alta California presidios. 

On November 14, 1792, Sal used his lone cannon for a two-gun salute to the long-awaited H. 
M. S. Discovery and her captain, George Vancouver. 22 The ship anchored for the night in 
Yerba Buena Cove. The next morning, Vancouver went ashore escorted by Sergeant Amador 
and one of the priests from Mission San Francisco. They offered the Englishman anything he 
needed in the way of supplies, and provided an ox, a sheep, and some vegetables to the crew 
who probably welcomed the fresh foodstuffs. They also requested the relocation of Discovery 
to the regular anchorage within sight of the Presidio. After taking on wood and water, 
Vancouver complied, although he could have resisted had he wished. 

From this new position, Vancouver came ashore once more. On November 17, he visited the 
post, later setting down a vivid picture of what he saw: 

We soon arrived at the Presidio, which was not more than a mile from our landing 
place. Its wall, which fronted the harbor, was visible from the ships; but instead of 
the city or town, whose lights we had so anxiously looked for on the night of arrival, 
surrounded by hills on every side, excepting that which fronted the port. The only 
object of human industry which presented itself, was a square area, whose sides 
were about two hundred yards in length, enclosed by a mud wall, and resembling 



18. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 509; Hermenegildo Sal to Interim Governor Jose Joaquin Arrillaga, San 
Francisco, September 9, 1792 and October 31, 1792, Archives of California, LIV, 70-72. 

19. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 31, 1792, Archives of California, LV, 74. Amelie Elkinton, 
ed., and Eric Beerman, trans., "A Listing of the Personnel and Materials of the First Expedition by and Sea to Alta 
California 1769," Archivo Historico National (Madrid), Papeles dejesuitas, Legajo 1230 (3), Doc. 3, (Sacramento, Calif.: 
State of California Department of Parks and Recreation, Resource Protection Division, 1986), 2. 

20. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, October 31, 1792, Archives of California, LIV, 120. 

21. Elkinton and Beerman, "A Listing of the Personnel and Materials," 2. 

22. The cannon evidently had become unserviceable and had to be repaired prior to Vancouver's arrival as it had 
been revented not long before the British landed. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, November 
14, 1792, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LV, 116. The refurbishing must have been a 
stop-gap measure since, in 1793, the governor reported to the viceroy the undefended position of San Francisco 
due to the fact that both of the local cannon were useless. Bancroft, History of California, I, 515. 

36 



a pound for cattle. Above this wall, the thatched roofs of their low small houses, just 
made their appearance. On entering the Presidio we found one of its sides still 
unenclosed by the wall, and very indifferently fenced in by a few bushes here and 
there, fastened to stakes in the ground. The unfinished state of this part, afforded us 
an opportunity of seeing the strength of the wall, and the manner in which it was 
constructed. It is about fourteen feet high, and five feet in breadth, and was first 
formed by uprights and horizontal rafters or large timber, between which dried sods 
and moistened earth were pressed as close and as hard as possible; after which the 
whole was cased with earth made into a sort of mud plaster, which gave it the 
appearance of durability, and of being sufficiently strong to protect them, with the 
assistance of their firearms, against all the force which the natives of the country 
might be able to collect. 23 

Despite efforts to either replace or repair the fourth wall, presumably the east section which 
may have been in need of work due to the elements or poor original construction, 
Vancouver's trained eye could not help but notice the bastion's vulnerability to a European 
assault. He observed that the symbolic defense work would topple easily under sustained 
artillery fire. Since he also learned that the garrison boasted only 35 soldiers, their families, 
and a few Indian servants, he no doubt realized that the contingent could not repel a superior 
force since only a brass three-pounder on a rotten carriage protected the main post and 
another gun supposedly lashed to a log for want of a carriage overlooked the southeast 
entrance to the harbor. 

Inside, Vancouver described the interior of the post: 

Their [the soldiers'] houses were along the wall, within the square, and their fronts 
uniformly extended the same distance into the area, which is a clear open space, 
without buildings or other interruptions. The only entrance into it, is by a large 
gateway; facing which, and against the centre of the opposite wall or side, is the 
church; which, though small, was neat in comparison to the rest of the buildings. 
This projects further into the square than the houses, and is distinguishable from the 
other edifices, by being white-washed with lime made from sea-shells; lime-stone or 
calcareous earth not having yet been discovered in the neighbourhood. On the left 
of the church, is the commandant's house, consisting, I believe, of two rooms and a 
closet only, which are divided by massy walls, similar to that which encloses the 
square and communicating with each other by very small doors. Between these 
apartments and the outward wall was an excellent poultry house and yard, which 
seemed pretty well stocked; and between the roof and the ceilings of the room was 
a kind of lumber garret: those were all the conveniences the habitation seemed 
calculated to afford. The rest of the houses, though smaller, were fashioned exactly 
after the same manner; and in the winter, or rainy seasons, must be at the best very 
uncomfortable dwellings. For though the walls are a sufficient security against the 
inclemency of the weather, yet the windows, which are cut in the front wall, and 



23. Marguerite Eyer Wilbur, ed. and annot., Vancouver in California 1792-1794: The Original Account of George 
Vancouver vol. I (Los Angeles, Calif.: Glen Dawson, 1954), 12-14. 

37 



look into the square, are destitute of glass, or any other defense that does not at the 
same time exclude the light. 24 

Once inside Sal's dwelling, Vancouver judged the main compartment in the quarters to be 30 
feet long by 14 feet wide, with a 12-foot ceiling and the other compartment to be of 
approximately equal size except a bit shorter. The floor consisted of packed earth raised about 
three feet from its original level. The inside walls showed evidence of having been 
whitewashed at one time. Moreover, he found spare and simple furnishings the rule, stating 
that Senora Sal received him seated cross-legged on a mat placed on a small wooden platform 
raised three or four inches from the ground. Vancouver indicated this was common practice. 

After sharing some refreshments with Sal and his family, including the three children who 
struck the Englishman as well-behaved and educated, Vancouver took a horseback tour of 
the immediate area. On his ride, the Englishman found the Presidio to be situated on "a plain 
surrounded by hills. This plain is by no means dead flat, but of unequal surface; the soil is 
of a sandy nature...." Vancouver likewise spied several flocks of sheep and some cattle as 
well as seeing that two small truck gardens existed outside the post, but it seemed that the 
soldiers expended little labor on their upkeep. The captain concluded that this bespoke "of 
the inactive spirit of the people, and the unprotected state of the establishment at this port, 
which I should conceive ought to be a principal object of the Spanish crown, as a key barrier 
to their more southern and valuable settlements on the borders of the North Pacific." 25 
Ironically, the British naval officer reached a correct conclusion about the Presidio's strategic 
importance as a buffer to the borderlands, yet Spanish officials regularly overlooked this fact 
as evidenced by the lack of response to requests for additional resources. 

After Vancouver's survey, Sal, his family, and some other ladies of the garrison dined on 
board Discovery. The next day, Vancouver accepted an invitation to visit Mission Dolores. A 
few days later, on November 20, he even went with seven of his officers on a three-day 
excursion to Santa Clara, being the first Europeans other than the Spanish to penetrate into 
the interior of California. When they returned on November 23, the British found their sister 
ship, H. M. S. Chatham, in port. 26 Taking on more supplies, Vancouver offered to pay for 



24. Wilbur, Vancouver in California, 14-16. 

25. Wilbur, Vancouver in California, 17-33. 



26. Archibald Menzies, the naturalist on board Discovery, made similar observations about the appearance of the 
post stating that they "entered through a breech in the Wall" to a square which measured approximately "four 
hundred yards on each side, walled in on three sides with Turf or Mortar Wall of twelve or fourteen feet high 
rudely fenced in on the other or eastern side with a dead hedge." The buildings were made of large earthen bricks 
incorporated with straw or grass and with roofs thatched with coarse long grass and bulrushes. He pronounced 
the quarters and warehouses that lined the walls as shabby and mean, while he found the commander's "own 
dwelling could hardly be distinguished from the rest...." Alice Eastwood, ed., "Archibald Menzies' California 
Journal of the Vancouver Expedition," II California Historical Society Quarterly no. 4 (January 1927): 270-71. Menzies 
also mentioned that a small cannon lashed to a log at the entrance of the port was the only defense. He also 
regretted that he had arrived at a time of year when the plants were not in bloom as there were many species that 
he did not recognize and would have been interested in observing. Ibid., 275. 

Sal told the governor that he could not salute Chatham when the ship arrived on November 22 because, by that 
point, he had no functioning ordnance and none of the guns promised by Bodega y Quadra had been delivered. 
Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, November 30, 1792, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 306. 

38 



what they had acquired. Sal declined since Bodega authorized some of the goods and, as 
comandante, he personally donated the remainder to the British as a gesture of good faith. Sal 
did accept a few implements and ornaments from Vancouver, as well as two hogsheads of 
liquor, one of rum and one of wine, to be distributed among the people of the Presidio and 
the missions. 27 With the friendly exchange over, on November 26, 1792, the pair of British 
ships departed for Monterey. 28 

The after-effects of Vancouver's visit proved many and varied. The governor ad interim, Jose 
Arrillaga, twice reprimanded Sal, once for permitting Alferez Jose Perez Fernandez to go to 
Monterey on Vancouver's frigate, and a second time for permitting the British to gain such 
an extensive knowledge of the weak state of San Francisco's defenses. 29 

Regardless of this censure, Comandante Sal at last received the much sought after 
strengthening of the presidial district which he previously had requested to no avail. The 
sudden interest of high level Spanish officials in the state of San Francisco's defenses began 
in earnest with a proposal to establish a new settlement at Bodega Bay. The governor traveled 
north to see the progress for himself but certain problems impeded the Bodega project. After 
only two weeks, the Spanish abandoned their efforts there while Arrillaga decided to divert 
the supplies and men provided for the settlement to the erection of a fortification the viceroy 
also had ordered for San Francisco. The site on the heights overlooking the harbor's entrance, 



27. Sal provided 11 cows, seven sheep, and 10 arrobas of manteca (lard) by order of the commander at San Bias, 
Juan de la Bodega y Quadra. He also turned over an additional two beeves, a pair of calves, four more sheep, 190 
calabashes (pumpkins or squash), 10 sacks of vegetables, one cart full of vegetables, a large number of fowls, and 
400 eggs. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, November 30, 1792, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 304; Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 510-11. Vancouver wrote to 
Governor Arrillaga with his regrets for not being able to pay for the bounty received at both San Francisco and 
Monterey, but Arrillaga replied that the Englishman should not trouble himself over the matter. This generosity 
also removed any pretext for Vancouver's return to obtain additional supplies. Arrillaga informed his commanders 
along the coast that there would be no need to cooperate in the future with the British naval officer as he would 
be using the pretext of obtaining food or water to gain intelligence about the countryside. Only in cases of urgency 
should foreign vessels be allowed access to any of the Spanish ports. Ibid., 521. Following this line of reasoning, 
Sal did not allow the next English ship bound for Nootka to remain long in port. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose 
Arrillaga, San Francisco, March 16, 1793, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LFV, 262-64. 

28. Bancroft, History of California, I, 510-511. 

29. Ibid., 514; Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Joaquin Arrillaga, San Francisco, December 31, 1792, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 52. Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga came from Aya, in the Basque Province 
of Guipuzcoa, where he was born in 1750. A bachelor, he came to Nueva Espana as a member of the Volunteer 
Company of the Presidio of San Miguel de Horcasitas in Sonora, serving there from May 25, 1777, through March 

30. 1778, when his promotion to alferez brought a transfer to duty in Texas. He continued to rise in rank. As a 
captain, he transferred to the Presidio of Loreto in Baja California to assume dual assignments as commander of 
that post and as lieutenant governor of the Californias, assignments he held from 1783 through 1792. On April 9 
of that year, he assumed the position as governor ad interim of the Californias and remained in this capacity until 
May 14, 1794, when Diego de Borica replaced him. Again, between January 16, 1800, and March 26, 1804, he 
fulfilled this same duty. In between time, he continued as lieutenant governor and commander at Loreto. He 
became a lieutenant-colonel on December 15, 1794, and a colonel sometime in either 1809 or 1810. Arrillaga died 
at Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, on July 24, 1814. 

39 



originally chosen by Anza in 1776, once again had been selected. At first, Sal took charge of 
the project but heavy winter rains temporarily halted activity for two months. 30 

For all the good intentions, by 1793, only a temporary earthwork with six mounted guns had 
appeared. Consequently, when H. M. S. Chatham again dropped anchor in the bay on October 
19, one of these on board, naturalist Archibald Menzies, commented that "eight long brass 
four-pounders" lay on the beach, but the "battery for the defense of the Harbour remained 
unfinished." 31 Vancouver himself recorded counting 11 dismounted cannon, thought to be 
nine-pounders, and a large supply of shot of various sizes. He further commented that the 
Spanish worked along with many Indians atop the cliff at the harbor's entrance where they 
appeared to be erecting a barbette battery. He could only speculate on this from a distance 
as Sal, although evidently rather chagrined by his orders, restricted the English in their 
movements on this second visit, based upon Arrillaga's reminder that foreigners were not 
welcome in California. 32 For all this, Vancouver estimated that only 400 soldiers served from 
Loreto to San Francisco, "the most northern Presidio." Of these, he again noted that only 
about 36 men at arms garrisoned the Bay Area. While he found all of these men "very expert 
horsemen, and, so far as their numbers extend, are well qualified to support themselves 
against any domestic insurrection; but are totally incapable of making any resistance against 
a foreign invasion." 33 Once more, the savvy Englishman's words hit the mark. 

Conversely, Vancouver and Menzies incorrectly recorded the number and caliber of the guns 
scheduled to serve as a protection for the harbor since they only spied a temporary 
earthworks on their landing. 34 This structure was to be replaced by a more permanent work 
consisting of 10-feet-thick embrasures on the seaward side of adobe faced with brick and 



30. George Tays, "Castillo de San Joaquin, Registered Landmark #82," (State of California, Department of Natural 
Resources, Division of Parks, 1936) contains further details on the subject of this defense work. Later, Sal asked 
that material originally slated for the defunct Bodega Bay project be diverted to the San Francisco. Hermenegildo 
Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 25, 1794, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VI, 348. 

31. Eastwood, "Archibald Menzies' Journal": 306-307. 

32. Bancroft, History of California, I, 518-21; Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco, II, 720; Wilbur, Vancouver 
in California, 109-241. The English accepted another 737 pesos' worth of supplies on credit during this second visit 
and then went on to Monterey after only about four days in San Francisco. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, 
San Francisco, October 22, 1793, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 202-203. 

33. Wilbur, Vancouver in California, 239-40. 

34. It appears that neither Menzies nor Vancouver correctly counted the number or type of the guns at that time. 
One official Spanish report listed eight bronze twelve-pounders at San Francisco and a like number at Monterey, 
along with seven six-pounders for San Diego and two more for Santa Barbara. There were also 800 cannon balls 
on hand at San Francisco at the same time. Report, Jose Arrillaga, Monterey, March 8, 1794, Californias, AGN, 
legajo 49 #1, 3325 (microfilm, University of New Mexico). This last figure agrees with an earlier report that stated 
that the 234 cannon balls of four and 12 pounds had been distributed and 800 remained on hand. There were also 
30 stands of grapeshot or canister, 52 arrobas and seven ounces of powder, 21 arrobas and 10 ounces of lead foil 
for wrapping flints, seven arrobas and 24 ounces of musket balls, 3,065 musket cartridges made up, and 244 flints. 
The remainder of the ordnance stores had been distributed for use. Report of Hermenegildo Sal, San Francisco, 
December 31, 1793, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 463. A slightly later document 
noted that the same amount of canister remained on hand but that the cannon balls had been reduced to 767. Also, 
(our arrobas of fuse was available for the seven 12-pounders and one eight-pounder with their carriages. Evidently, 
the first statement that there were eight 12-pound pieces was in error. Finally, complete artillery implements, 
including rammers, swabs, powder scoops, and worms, formed part of the inventory. Report of Diego de Borica, 
Monterey, March 3, 1795, Californias, AGN, legajo 9, 1625 (microfilm, University of New Mexico). 

40 



mortar. Behind this stood an esplanade on which the heavy guns with their four-wheeled 
siege-type carriages rested. The esplanade, made of heavy timbers, had a plank flooring about 
20 feet wide, held together by nine-inch spikes. On the land side, the walls of unfaced adobe 
stood only five feet thick. There, lighter guns on two-wheeled carriages sat on the ground. 35 
Superintendent of construction for the Department of San Bias, Francisco Gomez, provided 
his expertise. Master gunner Don Jose Garaicochea directed the placement of the cannon. 
These men and three sawyers had come up from Mexico aboard Aranzazu originally bound 
for Bodega Bay before being reassigned to the castillo. 36 Antonio Santos also arrived with the 
ship and took charge of the manufacture of tile and burnt brick. 37 The masters worked with 
Christian Indians provided by the missions and non-converted native people brought up from 
the area around Santa Clara. Woodchoppers went into the hills west of San Mateo for timber, 
going a distance of more than 10 leagues to secure the redwood. It took about a week to bring 
back the lumber, weather permitting, while 23 yoke of oxen hauled the material northward. 38 
Additionally, the laborers made many bricks and tiles before the rains halted work in January 
1794. 

At this point, Alferez Jose Perez Fernandez replaced Sal as nominal director of work on the 
fort. 39 Timber felling went well and as soon as the workers received the requested boats and 
other associated implements, the lumber could be brought to the fort. This fact indicated that 
the beams and boards from the hills would be hauled overland and then probably floated to 
the beach between the Presidio and the castillo. Even before this, a half- dozen cannon had 
been placed and stood ready for action on the partially completed esplanade, although Perez 
Fernandez admitted the use of incorrect size timbers in its construction. 

In early March 1794, when the rains ceased, efforts resumed. Perez Fernandez sent Sergeant 
Amador to San Jose to obtain non-Christianized Indians for heavy work, because they 
provided the only available labor force. They received a daily allotted wage, plus a pair of 
cotton breeches and a blanket as a bonus. Occasionally, difficulties arose from their 
employment since some of them ran away, causing the Spaniards either to give chase or find 
replacements. By April, 78 Indians toiled on the castillo, including some 30 Christian Indians. 
All but one of the latter group, the sole volunteer, reported as a punishment for stubbornness 
or other infractions against the padres. There were also eight neophytes from Mission Santa 
Clara while the rest came from the local non-Christian inhabitants. The money and clothing 
earned by the mission Indians went back to the padres for disbursement. A sergeant, corporal, 
and two soldiers supervised the work of this group, who chiefly kept occupied at adobe brick 



35. Tays, "Castillo de San Joaquin," 10-11. 



36. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Joaquin Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 25, 1793, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 342. 

37. Jose Perez Fernandez to Governor Diego de Borica, San Francisco, December 9, 1794, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, VII, 26. 

38. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Jose Antonio Romeu, San Francisco, March 4, 1792, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, VI, 53; Jose Perez Fernandez to Governor Jose Antonio Romeu, San Francisco, January 30, 
1794 and March 1, 1794, ibid., VII, 47. 

39. Little is known of this officer save that Bancroft states he arrived in California sometime after 1790 as a 
sergeant. Because he could read and write, he received a promotion to ensign and came to the Presidio of San 
Francisco as acting commander while Sal rotated to Monterey. 

41 



making at the rate of 1,500 daily. Others cut wood. Before long, they provided 52 large square 
timbers for the esplanade's completion. 40 

While construction progressed at a steady rate, the viceroy changed his mind about the fort's 
construction, considering its cost excessive. For once, the long delays in communication with 
Mexico City worked to the advantage of the Californios. The viceroy's instructions to stop 
construction of the fort took six months to reach Monterey. By that time, mid-June 1794, the 
governor replied that with completion so near, it seemed wise to finish the project. In his 
opinion no ship could enter or leave San Francisco once the fort stood as a guardian while 
enemy cannon from ships could not damage the fort to any great extent because of its 
superior construction. With enough artillery and artillerymen, San Francisco would be safe 
from foreigners once and for all. 

Thus, ignoring the viceroy, California's leaders took local defense matters into their own 
hands. Consequently, with all the heavy masonry and timber work completed, after an 
expenditure of 6,400 pesos 4 reales and 7 granos, acting Commander Perez Fernandez dedicated 
the new Castillo de San Joaquin.^ On December 8, 1794, the priests of the mission said mass 
and chanted the Te Deum. Musket volleys and cannon fire concluded the festivities. 
Afterwards, the comandante saw to it that final details, including installing the flooring and 
gun racks in the barracks, the sentry box of the fortified tower, and the door of the messroom, 
also reached completion. 42 The commander summarized that the artillery had been set in 
place at small expense, the task requiring only two days for the Indian work force. Soldiers 
accomplished the remainder of the job at no additional cost above their normal salary. A yoke 
of oxen from the Presidio provided extra muscle. Only a few details remained to be received, 
including two boxes of 8- or 9-inch spikes so the roof could be nailed on and doors and 
windows from San Bias to enclose the buildings. 43 Additionally, the governor requested 
more artillery, writing to request four more 12-pounders and three 24-pounders along with 
carriages, implements, fuses, powder, cable, lead base plates for the primer mechanisms, 
burlap wrapped cartridges in eight, 12, and 24 pound calibers, and regular cannon balls for 
the 12- and 24-pounders. 44 

While improvements moved forward on coastal defenses, the extent of the accomplishment 
remained in doubt since the castillo progressed at the expense of the Presidio's well-being. 45 
For one thing, the large number of marriages during this period created more families than 



40. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, April 30, 1 794, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
VII, 74-75. 

41 . Jose Fernandez Perez to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, January 31, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 52-53. The total cost increased with additional work to 6503 pesos, 4 reales and 7 granos. 
Manuel Carcaba to Viceroy Branciforte, Mexico, January 5, 1796, Californias, AGN, legajo 9, 1648 (microfilm copy, 
University of New Mexico). 

42. The foregoing information represents a synthesis of Tays, "Castillo de San Joaquin," 9-17. 

43. Jose Perez Fernandez to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 31, 1794, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, VII, 68. 

44. Report of Diego de Borica, Monterey, March 3, 1795, Californias, AGN, legajo 9, 1624 (microfilm copy, 
University of New Mexico). 

45. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, n. 697. 

42 



shelters to house them. Perez Fernandez thought it wise to complete some new dwellings, as 
well as to repair old ones. He especially felt that the home of the second officer required the 
most attention. Since this was Perez Fernandez's own residence, the statement may have been 
self-serving. 46 Of more importance, the acting comandante examined the powder magazine 
after a heavy rain and found several leaks. He wanted tiles to protect the ordnance and 
recommended covering the powder barrels with hides as a further precaution. Adding to the 
problem, the oven to fire tiles had a crack in it, running from top to bottom on one side. This 
meant that a solution to the problem of leaking roofs was not immediate. Moreover, the 
sandy nature of the soil in the immediate vicinity resulted in inferior tiles and bricks and 
bricks being produced. 47 Perhaps the 1794 distribution of 1,200 pesos to troops engaged in 
presidial construction during the previous decade caused some to consider turning to such 
labors once again. 48 Even if so inclined, the soldados found little time for building. 

Frequently throughout the period, missionaries of the district called upon soldiers for aid in 
controlling the Indians. Still not enough men could be found to perform this duty, so the 
escolta at Mission San Francisco dwindled to three soldiers although the number of troops at 
Mission Santa Clara had increased from five to eight. 49 When, in 1794, the padres asked for 
soldiers to help round up prospective converts on the eastern side of the bay, Perez 
Fernandez could not oblige. At that time, his command totaled 35 effectives, spread out from 
San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 50 Indeed, early in 1795, the Presidio's immediate complement 
amounted to only two corporals and six privates, all of the latter being sick, detailed 
elsewhere, or assigned to semipermanent sentry duty for minor breaches of discipline. 51 
When anyone became ill or injured no replacements existed. A man who had applied for 
retirement could not be released either, as no one could be found to take his place. 52 



46. Jose Perez Fernandez to Interim Governor Jose Joaquin Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 31, 1794, Archives of 
California, State Papers, VII, 67. Since the structure had only been constructed the previous year, according to 
Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, April 29, 1793, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, LIV, 407, one wonders how far the place had deteriorated in such a short period of time. 

47. Jose Perez Fernandez to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, February 1, 1794, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, VII, 57 and ibid., February 28, 1794, 58. 

48. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 533. Actually, this payment brought no wild enthusiasm since no money 
changed hands: the bonus pay was credited to the accounts of soldiers for their supplies, thereby failing to put 
scarce specie in their hands. 

49. Jose Perez Fernandez to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 1, 1794, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, VII, 78. 

50. Jose Perez Fernandez to Interim Governor Jose Joaquin Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 1, 1794; Jose Joaquin 
Arrillaga to Governor Diego de Borica, San Francisco, November 30, 1794, Archives of California, VII, 78 and 29-30, 
respectively. 

51. Report of Pedro Amador, San Francisco, January 1, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VII, 
361 and Hermenegildo Sal to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, January 1, 1795, ibid., 375-376. 

52. Jose Perez Fernandez to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, January 22, 1795, Archives of Calif ornia, Provincial State 
Papers, VII, 378-379. Only one of the corporals, Bartolo Pacheco, could write even passably. Ibid., February 1, 381. 
Earlier, the comandante attempted to rectify the situation by requesting a soldier from Santa Barbara who could 
read and write to be promoted and sent to fill a corporal's vacancy at San Francisco. Another corporal, Nicolas 
Galindo, the man who requested retirement in 1794, may have found his replacement when his 15-year-old son 
enlisted for 10 years. Ibid., July 4, 1795, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 23. 

43 



By 1795, a lieutenant, Jose Argiiello, who served on detached duty at Monterey, an alferez 
(who doubled as commander) and habilitado, one sergeant, four corporals, and 31 soldiers 
formed the strength of the San Francisco presidial district. 53 With these figures, little wonder 
that in September 1795, 280 neophyte men and women felt confident enough to run off from 
Mission Dolores. Their numbers included several who had lived at the place for a long time. 
Troops could do little to respond, and lacking a sufficient force to pursue these runaways, 
recapture proved all but impossible. 54 

In 1795, Indians living at Mission Santa Clara also tried to escape, but the escolta, having been 
increased slightly during the previous year, managed to organize an expedition to go after 
the deserters. Sergeant Amador headed off with a corporal and seven lancers. After three 
days of rounding up their men and a horse thief they managed to pick up, the "posse" 
returned. The captives faced whippings and a month of labor at the Presidio, probably 
wearing shackles for the duration of their punishment. 55 

A tribunal in Mexico suggested that this situation had to stop. Members of this review 
committee recognized: 

California troops have duties distinct from other soldiers of the kingdom and suffer 
fatigues that do not belong to their profession, such as courier, vaquero, farmer, 
shepherd, laborer which barely leave them time for necessary rest. It is necessary to 
relieve them from these various duties, so that they may carry out their proper duty 
of promoting the spiritual conquest of the Peninsula. 



53. The ensign was Jose Perez Fernandez; Pedro Amador, a 53-year-old veteran of 30 years, served as sergeant. 
Miguel Pacheco, Luis Peralta, Manuel Boronda, and Alejo Miranda performed as corporals over privates Jose 
Aceves, Pablo Aceves, Ignacio Alviso, Juan Alviso, Apolinario Bernal, Francisco Bemal, Joaquin Bernal, Juan 
Bernal, Francisco Bojorques, Jose Castillo, Francisco Flores, Isidro Flores, Jose Rafael Galindo, Venancio Galindo, 
Juan Garcia, Ignacio Higuera, Jose Higuera, Juan Jose Higuera, Salvador Higuera, Ramon Linares, Joaquin Mesa, 
Bartolo Pacheco, Pedro Peralta, Jose Rosales, Jose Sanchez, I, Jose Sanchez, II, Francisco Soto, Francisco Valencia, 
and Jose Vizcarra. In addition, retired alferez Ramon Lasso, and invalidos Gabriel Peralta (corporal), and Justo 
Altamirano, Ramon Bojorques, Ignacio Linares, and Ignacio Soto (privates) were carried on the rolls. Habilitado's 
Report, San Francisco, December 31, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 8-10; 
ibid., March 1, 1795, 445; ibid., December 31, 1795, 56. One cannot help but notice the many men who were fathers, 
sons, or brothers of other soldiers in the same garrison, not to mention several who were related by marriage. 
Since the soldados made up the mainstay of the gente de razon in Alta California, this situation was common 
throughout the Spanish presence in the territory. 

54. Jose Perez Fernandez to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, September 13, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial 
State Papers, VII, 375-376. Previously, the commander attempted to dissuade the local missionaries from looking 
for converts in the East Bay as not enough troops could be had to protect the priests as they went into this 
unexplored region. Jose Perez Fernandez to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, November 1794, ibid., VII, 29-30. 

55. Report of Sergeant Pedro Amador, February 14, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VII, 31-32; 
Jose Perez Fernandez to Governor Diego de Borica, San Francisco, March 20, 1795, ibid., Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, LFV, 31-32. Ibid., Ill notes many disturbances among the native people in 1797. That same year 
violence broke out at Mission San Francisco with corresponding military expeditions and punishments against the 
Indians. Ibid., IX, 39-40; 77-79. Rumors of unrest at Mission Santa Clara and outbreaks in Marin during the period 
1794 through 1800 occasionally caused soldiers to take to the field. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 547-49. 

44 



The report concluded that the government "should appoint regular vaqueros, shepherds, and 
butchers so that the soldiers may be freed to encourage the mission and start new ones.... 56 

All this sounded wonderful in theory but in practice the winter that followed saw no such 
revolutionary change for the troops or their surroundings. In fact, with every rain, thatched- 
roofed adobes disintegrated. Local officials attempted to persuade the governor to abandon 
the Presidio of San Francisco in favor of a more advantageous spot near Cantil Blanco. The 
site was to be about 481 varas from the battery rather than the 2,889 varas that separated the 
Castillo from the main post, perhaps on the level ground where the parade ground now exists 
for Fort Winfield Scott. Governor Diego de Borica visited San Francisco and determined that 
11,716 pesos would be required for the relocation and construction of the new presidio. 57 On 
June 27, 1795, he recommended that the funds be allotted to this end, also noting that, since 
1776, the continual rebuilding at the old presidial site cost some 8,188 pesos, yet the structures 
could topple at any moment. 58 In fact, gales damaged the chapel and one of the houses early 
the next year while the poorly constructed warehouse (presumably a wooden edifice) 
represented a fire hazard and had to be replaced by one of stone or adobe by the late 
1790s. 59 While all these reasons pointed to a need for a new post, the viceroy denied the 
Governor's proposal to relocate and start anew due to the high costs, the distance to water, 
sandy ground, and exposure to winds and storms found at the proposed area behind the 
Castillo. 60 As a result, the inhabitants of San Francisco's garrison had to remain content with 
their lot. Then, in 1796, relief seemed on its way. 

In late March and early April of that year, Alta California became the home of the special 
infantry unit from Spain popularly known as the Catalonian Volunteers. 61 Most of the unit 



56. Report of Real Tribunal Audiencia de la Contaduria Mayor de Cuentas to the Viceroy, Mexico, November 18, 1795, 
Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VII, 397-404. The same rationale prompted Governor Borica to 
underscore the need for vaqueros and settlers to be brought from New Spain so that the soldiers could concentrate 
on their strictly martial duties. Governor Borica to Viceroy Branciforte, Monterey, August 4, 1796 in Expediente 
sobre la ereccion de la Villa de Branciforte en la Nueva California, 1796-1803 (W.B. Stevens Collection, University 
of Texas Library, Austin, Tex.). 

57. Another Basque from the province of Vizcaya, Borica became a cadet in the Infantry Regiment of Seville at 
age 21. He served in this unit from March 15, 1763, through July 31, 1764, when his appointment as a lieutenant 
of the Infantry Regiment of America brought him to New Spain. For a decade he served in Mexico until a transfer 
to the cavalry, in 1774, brought him to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thereafter, he performed a number of duties, 
eventually earning the rank of lieutenant colonel on February 5, 1785, and only 12 days later became a colonel. 
The year before, he came to California as governor, a post he held from May 14, 1795, through January 6, 1800. 
He returned to New Spain on a leave of absence because of ill health, and died in Durango on July 19, 1800. 
Nuttall, "Gobernantes": 276-77. 

58. The governor had examined the post and found it reduced to one four-room house for the commander and 
a dwelling for the habilitado, both of which threatened to fall down, plus 13 small one-room quarters for the troops, 
a small chapel, a warehouse for grain, and a guardia, all of which, except the habilitacion, had tule roofs which the 
winds carried off. Governor Borica to Viceroy, San Francisco, June 27, 1795, Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio 
of San Francisco 1790s, tomo VI, 51. 

59. Bancroft, History of California, Vol. I, n. 697. 

60. Ibid., 697; Pedro de Alberni to Diego Borica, San Francisco, June 20, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial 
State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 361 and Alberto Cordoba to Diego Borica, San Francisco, July 20, 1796, id., 362. 

61. Joseph Patrick Sanchez, Spanish Bluecoats: The Catalonian Volunteers in Northwestern New Spain (Albuquerque, 
N. Mex.: University of New Mexico Press, 1990) provides an excellent overview of this military organization. 

45 



arrived aboard Valdes and San Carlos with their leader, longtime veteran Lieutenant-Colonel 
Pedro de Alberni. 62 After three decades of service from Mexico to Nootka Sound, this 
organization played a new role in Spain's final major effort at increasing settlement and 
commerce for the protection of California. The dispatching of the Catalonians formed only 
part of an ambitious undertaking which sought an enhanced Spanish presence in the 
province. Other features of this plan included the establishment of batteries at the main ports 
of San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco with eight 12-pounder cannon each. 63 Among 
other objectives, the Catalonian infantrymen were to provide reinforcements to the leather 
jacket soldiers. The viceroy's authorization of more artillery, an engineer officer (Alberto 
Cordoba), three armorers to be classed as soldiers at 217.50 pesos per annum, and 17 to 18 
artillerymen, with seven gunners assigned to San Francisco under Sergeant Jose Roca, 
indicated a willingness on the part of Spanish officials generally to follow this course of 
action. The catalyst for this activity was war between Spain and France which began in 



62. Alberni was born about 1745 to Jaime de Alberni and Josefa Texador in Tortosa, Catalonia. He married Juana 
Velez of Tepic and she bore his daughter. His military life began in 1757, while he was but 12. By 1762, he served 
as a cadet in the Second Light Infantry Regiment of Catalonia. Over the next five years he rose to second sergeant 
and first sergeant. With that rank, he volunteered for service in the New World, where he went in 1767 as a 
sublieutenant in "the newly organized Company of Catalonian Volunteers." After a stint in Sonora on campaigns, 
from 1771 through 1781, Alberni "served in the garrisons at Guadalajara in Jalisco and Mesa del Tonati in Nayarit. 
In 1782, Alberni assumed command of the Volunteers...." At that point, his rather ordinary career transformed 
into a more important one. After eight years as captain of the company, he and his 80 men received orders for 
Nootka where they were, "to guard Spanish vessels and reestablish fortifications...." Alberni received the title of 
commandant of arms and governor of the fort. Alberni's two years in the Northwest demonstrated his many 
abilities. 

Alberni returned to New Spain where he attended "to his family and soldierly duties" until 1795. In that year, war 
with France stimulated action on Spain's part to send reinforcements to California. In 1796, Alberni headed some 
75 men and became the commander at the San Francisco presidial district. As a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish 
army he was the highest ranking military man in the Californias. He remained in the Bay Area until 1800 when 
he relocated to Monterey as comandante. Alberni died there on March 11, 1802 from dropsy, leaving all his estate 
to his widow as their daughter had died earlier. Sanchez, Spanish Bluecoats, passim. 

63. Eventually, four forts protected the corresponding Presidios of Alta California, including one named 
"Guijarros" in San Diego and castillos at Monterey (built c. 1794) and Santa Barbara (perhaps dating from the 
Mexican period in 1830). Additionally, in 1775, Bodega y Quadra had set up a temporary fortification at the bay 
that bore his name. In the late 1790s, another bateria came into being to protect the Yerba Buena anchorage. Finally, 
in 1817, the governor ordered another battery built in Monterey, possibly to repel a threatened invasion by 
Bouchard. For an interesting comparison between San Francisco and Monterey see Diane Spencer-Hancock and 
William E. Pritchard, "El Castillo De Monterey Frontline of Defense: Uncovering the Spanish Presence in Alta 
California," LXII California History no. 3 (Summer 1984): 230-40. 

64. Pablo Sanchez, a military officer, Salvador Fidalo of the Spanish Navy, and Miguel Costanso, an engineer 
officer who had been with Portola in 1769-1770, served as the committee's members. See Bancroft, History of 
California, vol. I, 534-35, and Miguel Costanso to the Marques de Branciforte, Mexico, October 17, 1794, Biblioteca 
Nacional, Papeles referentes a Mexico, No. 19266. 

65. The actual number of artillery and workers exceeded this amount. In fact, Roca headed a detachment of a 
dozen and a half workers, artificers, and artillerymen sent out from San Bias for San Francisco. He and Private 
Mariano Brito were the only married men. The majority of the force hailed from Mexico, except for Roca, another 
native of Catalonia from the town of Tarrega, Second Corporal Gregorio Martinez of Cadiz, Juan Marine of Tarrega 
in Catalonia, and two workmen, the carpenter Rafael Lledo of Palma and the artificer Francisco Monteverde from 
Genoa, Italy. The rest of the group included Miguel Brito, Jose Cano, Matias Guerrero, Jose Medina, Jose Osorio, 
Jose Sarco, and Jose Villasehor (all artificers and workmen) along with artillerymen Jose Francisco Arguelles (first 
corporal), Mariano Mercado, Jose Peha, and Juan Zuniga. Most of the men were in their early to mid-twenties, 
with the exception of one 17-year-old (Monteverde), two 19-year-olds (Mercado and Medina), Roca who was 37, 

46 



the late 18th century as the former allies now turned against each other with the rise of 
republicanism and Napoleon Bonaparte. 66 

Moreover, the Catalonians formed part of a scheme to establish a combined civilian-military 
community, the Villa Branciforte, south of the Bay Area in present-day Santa Cruz. 67 This 
establishment would "be populated by Catalonian Volunteers who..., finished with their term 
of service or not, wished to remain in California" along with retired soldiers from the 
Presidios, landless people from Los Angeles and San Jose, plus vecinos (inhabitants or settlers) 
from New Spain. For this reason, Alberni had hand-picked his force from two different 



and Lledo who was 44. Report, Pedro Laguna, Royal body of Artillery, Department of New Spain, Mexico, October 
15, 1795, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VII, 289; Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 535-36. 

Of Cordoba, or Cordova as it also was spelled, little is known. He held the rank of ingenerio extraordinario 
(lieutenant) in the elite Royal Engineers when he came to California, remaining until the autumn of 1798. He 
performed many diverse tasks while in the province before his return to Mexico. 



66. The crown called for voluntary contributions to help the war effort in Europe. The people of the San Francisco 
district gave 707 pesos, the second highest amount after that provided by Santa Barbara and Los Angeles (980 pesos 
4 reales). Governor Borica also contributed 1000 pesos, a sum that represented one-quarter of his annual pay. No 
name, March 12, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State papers, Sacramento, LIV, 500. 

67. In addition to the company's captain, Lieutenant Colonel Alberni, the roster of Catalonian Volunteers 
dispatched to San Francisco included First Sergeant Joaquin Tico, Drummer Juan Tico, First Corporals Francisco 
Rubiol and Claudio Galindo, Second Corporal Jose Miranda, and Privates Jose Alari, Jose Barrientos, Manual 
Martinez, Diego Galvez, Jose Palafox, Jose Gomez, Jose Murmanto, Juan Maldonado, Miguel Mendoza, Alejo 
Gonzalez, Jose Acosta, Faustino Icequera, Jose Martinez, Juan Manuel de la Vega, Jose Gonzales, Juan Alvarez, 
Jose Maria Serrano, Jose Espinosa, Benancio Ruelas, and Manuel Mallen. Pedro de Alberni, Roster of Catalonian 
Volunteers at San Francisco, San Francisco, May 30, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Benicia 
Military, XVI, 53-54. The two other officers (Lieutenant Jose Font and Sublieutenant Simon Suarez), two second 
sergeants, five corporals, one drummer and the remaining 39 privates went to San Diego, Monterey, and other 
assignments around the province, including 25 who served with Font at San Diego and eight who stayed with 
Suarez at Monterey. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 540-41. 

68. Guest, "Villa de Branciforte": 36. Under the plan for the Villa, when a Catalonian's enlistment ran out he could 
not reenter the military. Instead, he would become a landowner, take up farming, and form the basis of a militia 
as well in times of emergency. In turn, recruits from New Spain would fill the vacancy left by each retiring or 
departing volunteer. Sanchez, Spanish Bluecoats, 148-49. To encourage enlistment within the province a directive 
went forward allowing anyone of 16 years of age or older to join. Hermenegildo Sal to Gabriel Moraga, Monterey, 
October 24, 1796, San Jose Archives, II, 73 (Bancroft Reference Notes, General Military, California, 1790s). 

More than a year later, a report went forward with the names of all the young men in the San Jose area fit 
for service in the military. The document included comments about what family they came from; whether they 
had any brothers who could assist the family if they entered the army, and like considerations. Anonymous 
Report, San Jose, September 29, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VIII, 346-48. This latter 
document no doubt reflected the belief that France, and later Great Britain, might attempt to strike San Francisco 
and seize it from Spain. For this reason, Arguello was to distribute muskets, cartridge boxes, and flints to those 
invalided soldiers and vecinos who had none. Governor Borica to Jose Arguello, San Francisco, April 20, 1797, 
Provincial State Papers, XVI, 55 (Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s). For those invdlidos 
who had not moved to a pueblo, they would not be allowed to move to ranches. If they remained at a presidio, 
they had to take their turn at guard. Governor Borica to Presidio Commanders, Monterey, October 15, 1797, ibid., 
IV, 159-160. 

47 



companies of Catalonians in order to take men who were "strong, robust, well-behaved, 
married (for the greater part, if possible)" and supplied them with new arms and outfits. 69 

The Catalonian Volunteers were dressed and accoutred in the manner of their Old World 
counterparts. The enlisted men were attired in long, blue quilted overcoats faced with yellow 
standing collars and cuffs. They also received a practical knitted woolen headpiece similar to 
a sailor's "watch cap." A yellow waistcoat, black cravat, black footgear, and blue breeches, 
which matched the regimental coat, completed the basic outfit. A short-sleeved cloak common 
to Catalonia (the gambeto) could substitute as an outer garment. Silver or white metal buttons 
accented the regimental coats. Musicians displayed an extra bit of ornamentation in the form 
of red and white (the colors of the Bourbon monarchs) "royal livery." Officers wore a black 
tricorn hat with scarlet cockade and silver lace trim. In addition to their hats, their coats 
featured a different type of collar, were of finer material, and displayed various rank devices 
to set them apart from the men. 70 As a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Army, Pedro de 
Alberni may have displayed two silver galloons (narrow, close-woven ribbon or braid) on 
each of his sleeves which ran horizontally above the cuffs. If not, he sported a pair of silver 
bullion epaulets as the commanding captain of the company. Lieutenants and ensigns serving 
with the unit wore the same type of silver bullion epaulets but singly on the right shoulder 
for lieutenants and on the left shoulder for sublieutenants. 71 

Muzzle-loading muskets functioned as the main armament for the rank and file with the light 
infantry fusils, possibly of the 1752 pattern, being used as a weapon that was influenced by 
French and German designs of the period. Long belt knives or machetes and swords were 
issued. Pistols, at least for officers, were carried in a broad bandolier. Evidently, the enlisted 
men were not given these small arms. A cartridge box for 20 rounds and sword belts, when 
required, completed the basic arms and equipment typical to the unit. 72 



69. Viceroy Branciforte to Governor Arrillaga, Mexico, July 25, 1 795, Provincial State Papers, XII, 115-11 7, (Bancroft 
Reference Notes, General California Military, 1790s). Alberni felt that any soldiers who left the military for the 
settlement should receive double the allowance given to civilians as bounty. He thought this only fair because the 
volunteers had provided 15 to 20 years of faithful service to the crown already. During that period they became 
used to a soldierly bearing which meant, after keeping their body erect for so many years, they would find it 
difficult to perform back-bending work with the axe, hoe, and plow. Pedro de Alberni to Diego de Borica, San 
Francisco, July 1, 1796, I, 368-369, State Papers Mission and Colonization, Presidio of San Francisco 1790s, ibid. 
The men also could enlist in a presidial company if they wished when their service expired with the volunteers. 
Unmarried men were encouraged to wed christianized Indian women. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, n. 635. 

70. Detmar H. Finke, "La Organisacion del Ejercito en Nueva Espana," XI Boleti'n del Archivo General de la Nacion 
no. 4 (October-December 1940): 636; Abelardo Carrillo y Gariel, El Traje en la Nueva Espana (Mexico City, DF: 
Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, 1959), 178-79; and Joseph Hefter, coordinator, Cronica del Traje 
Militar en Mexico del siglo XVI al XX (Mexico, DF: Artes de Mexico, 1960), 38-39. 

71. Ordenanzas de S. M. Para El Regimen, Disciplina, Y Servicio de Sus Exercitos, tomo primero (Madrid: Oficina, 
Impresor de la Secretaria del Despacho Universal de la Guerra, 1768), 312-14. The presidial officers were 
authorized the same type of insignia of rank but in gold for their gala or "full dress." 

72. Hefter, Cronica del Traje, 38, asserts the Catalonians sometimes carried a "brass foghorn for intercom use when 
operating in dispersed order or broken territory." Beerman and Elkinton, "A Listing of Personnel and Materials," 
2, indicates that, in 1769, 109 mountain machetes and six swords came as part of the armament with Portola, while 
122 muskets and shotguns with bayonets and corresponding leather slings also were included. Similar types of 
weapons probably came in 1796. For more on the arms of the Catalonians see Sidney B. Brinckerhoff and Pierce 
A. Chamberlain, Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America, 1700-1821 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1972), 
24-25. 

48 



Thus, these foot soldiers cut a very different figure from their colonial comrades, the leather 
jacket soldiers who continued to wear the cuera which, about this time, was undergoing 
replacement by a shorter pattern because the old style proved cumbersome, interfering with 
certain of the soldados' duties, especially herding cattle and horses, escort and mail delivery, 
and a number of other assignments not in a combat situation. Consequently, the new short 
chupa (a sort of waist jacket) made of gamuza (antelope hide) with cuffs and collars edged in 
felt or velveteen (tripe) of red and which closed with gilded metal buttons, was authorized. 
So, too, were antelope hide breeches with gilded buttons. "On feast days, while on guard at 
the Presidios or when off duty" the troops had to "make use of the uniform strictly by royal 
regulation." The uniform for enlisted men continued to be essentially that prescribed in the 
previous decade complete with scarlet waistcoat, blue jacket with red cuffs and collar (no red 
lapels after 1794), blue breeches, black scarf, and black hat with gamuza botas (antelope- hide 
leggings). Another addition to the kit of this period consisted of a pair of small protective 
cushions on all saddles, each to contain a packet of additional cartridges, besides those in the 
cartridge box worn by each soldier. The heavy leather covering for horse's hindquarters 
(anqueras) likewise were done away with in that same year. 73 

The Catalonians also differed from the leather jacket soldiers in that they normally served on 
foot, thereby not incurring the expense of purchasing and maintaining mounts. As a result, 
these infantrymen received less money than that provided for the presidial soldiers. A 
comparison of the annual salary of the 1790s reflects this differential. Alberni, the highest paid 
individual, as captain, earned 840 pesos per annum while Perez Fernandez, as an ensign, 
received 400 pesos. Enlisted allotments in pesos were as follows: 



73. Taken from Hermenegildo Sal to Comisionado, Monterey, June 2, 1797, San Jose Archives, II, 79 (Bancroft 
Reference Notes, General California Military, 1790s); Teodoro de Croix to Felipe de Neve, Arizpe, September 22, 
1780, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XV, 145-147; Jose Arguello to Diego de Borica, 
Monterey, December 17, 1794, ibid., Provincial State Papers, VII, 379; Diego de Borica to Jose Arguello, San 
Francisco, April 20, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XVI, 55-56, and Jose Perez 
Fernandez to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, December 9-10, 1794, ibid., Provincial State Papers, VII, 29. A large 
cloak (the manga) provided protection in bad weather, being worn over the accoutrements to keep them dry. 
Eastwood, "Archibald Menzies' Journal": 295. 

49 





A rtti 



Figures 5-6. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the blue uniforms with yellow 
facings of the Catalonian Volunteers (top left) resembled those of the traditional European 
infantry of their era, as did the blue uniform with red facings of the artillerymen (top right) 
assigned to the castillo. Museo del Ejercito, Madrid. 



50 




Figure 7. In contrast, soldados de cuera, shown in this 1804 illustration with the chupa, botas, 
and large spurs, departed from Old World fashion of the period. In addition to the pistol seen 
at the rear of the saddle, the carbine partially appears at the pommel on the left side. The 
trooper also continued to carry the lance and shield, in the latter instance bearing the coat of 
arms of the Spanish monarch. Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla. 



51 








Figures 8-10. A lanza (lance) blade, ornate red with green trim waist-mounted caja de cartuchos 
(cartridge box), and a pistola typify some of the items carried by the soldados de cuera in the 
late 1700s and early 1800s. Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. 



52 




Figure 11. Examples of a lance head, an adarga, two escopetas, an espada ancha, and a bota are 
depicted in this exhibit as representative of the weapons carried in the 18th through 19th 
centuries by soldiers throughout the Spanish borderlands. Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, 
N. Mex. 



53 



Rank Catalonian Cuera 

Sergeant 180-192 (1st and 2nd Sgt) 262 

Corporal 144-156 (1st and 2nd Cpls) 225 

Private 132 217.50 

Drummer 144 (none authorized) 74 



The two unequal pay scales for the two branches may be understood by reflecting on the 
costs cavalrymen bore for special accoutrements and mounts not required by the Catalonians. 
The cavalryman's lance might cost one peso and four reales, his saber two pesos four reales, and 
the shield another two pesos. The cuera ran from 10 pesos used to 15 pesos for a new one. Each 
horse, of which the soldier kept several, required an expenditure of up to nine pesos, and 
mules would cost at least double that amount. 75 It should be noted that, by this period, 
unlike earlier times when shortages existed, all 36 soldados of the Presidio of San Francisco 
Company had cueras, cartridge boxes, carbines, swords, lances, and shields. 76 



74. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, n. 634. Retirement pay amounted to 135 reales a month for an ensign with 
25 years of service and 90 reales per month for sergeants with the same time in service. Sergeants with less than 
25 years were to receive 80 reales and corporals or privates granted an invdlido's certificate, were to have 64 reales 
(8 pesos) per month. Viceroy Branciforte to Governor de Borica, Mexico, August 9, 1796, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, VIII, 190-191. A soldier enlisted from 10 to 12 years and could not retire until he had 
served a minimum of 18 consecutive years in uniform. By 1799, pay for Alta California forces totaled between 
73,889 pesos and 1 real to 80,107 pesos, depending on estimates used. See Diego de Borica, "Report of Officers, 
Troops..., Peninsula of Californias...," Monterey, March 18, 1799, AGN Californias, XI (photostatic copy, University 
of New Mexico) and Viceroy to Governor of Californias, Mexico, August 21, 1798, Provincial State Papers, XVII, 
35 (Bancroft Reference Notes, General California Military, 1790s). 

75. These figures are based upon the amounts allotted to a retiring soldier at the Presidio of Santa Barbara who 
turned in his kit for credit. The musket was valued at five to six pesos, the musket case at one, and the cartridge 
box at one peso and four reales. Unidentified Rosters, Santa Barbara, December 17 and 21, 1797, Archives of 
California, Provincial State Papers, VIII, 244. Prices varied a bit since, three years earlier, retiring San Francisco 
trooper Justo Altamirano received 20 pesos credit for his cuera, five for his musket, plus nine pesos for five of his 
horses, eight for another, and seven for an unruly mount. Jose Perez Fernandez to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, 
December 1, 1794, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VII, 35. 

76. Report on Armament, Jose Argiiello, San Francisco, December 31, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 198. Argiiello also noted that he had six arrobas of canister, 1,441 solid shot for calibers 
ranging from 8 to 24 pounds, 223 arrobas of powder, 9,004 musket cartridges, an additional 12 arrobas of musket 
balls, and eight arrobas of lead. Report on Munitions, ibid. Some of the ordnance had been provided earlier in the 
decade since, in 1793, the presidios had a total of 161 muskets, 59 pistols, 177 swords, and 233 lances. Those 
numbers rose with a shipment that July from San Bias of another 158 muskets, 142 swords, and 96 lances valued 
at 2,650 pesos. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, n. 541. Of these, evidently 26 carbines and eight swords went 
to San Francisco. Report on Arms Going to the Presidios of California, Mexico, January 10, 1794, Archives of 
California, Provincial State Papers, VI, 340. Not three years later, 16,000 more flints, 200 additional muskets, and 
a like number of musket cases, cartridge boxes, and pistols arrived in the province. Bancroft, History of California, 
vol. I, n. 541. The value of the last-named weapon, the pistol, previously had been questioned in terms of its 
worth. The governor believed them to be "useless and dangerous to the men." Governor Arrillaga to the viceroy, 
Monterey, July 18, 1793, San Jose Archives, XX, 108 (Bancroft Reference Notes, General California Military, 1790s). 
A later governor also found the idea of target practice of little value. He told the guard at Santa Cruz that rather 
then firing at blank walls the men should use the ammunition to hunt bears. Diego de Borica to Escolta at Santa 
Cruz, Monterey, May 30, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VIII, 106. Just a few days before, each 
soldier in the San Francisco district had been instructed to draw 20 rounds and four flints per week for review 
and target practice, the officer in charge keeping strict accountability for the items issued. Hermenegildo Sal to 
Gabriel Moraga, San Francisco, May 2, 1797, San Jose Archives, XX, 30 (Bancroft Reference Notes, General 
California Military, 1790s). The year before, in 1796, all the available lead had been made up into some 6,000 

54 



Among the improvements of the 1790s were efforts to provide some formal education at the 
Presidio. In the past, soldiers had been assigned as schoolteachers with limited success. For 
example, in 1791, a convict blacksmith taught at San Francisco. Years passed before Governor 
Borica, who took a personal interest in education, appointed the garrison's carpenter, Corporal 
Manuel Boronda, as the local instructor in addition to his other duties. The governor stressed 
that Christian doctrine would be studied first "and afterward reading and writing would be 
taught. Paper was furnished by the habilitados, and after being covered with scholarly 
pothooks, was collected to be used in making cartridges." Boronda oversaw all these 
activities without increased pay. 77 This must have been a sore point with the man since, after 
only a year, artilleryman Jose Alvarez replaced him in the classroom. 78 It seems that Boronda 
had been locked up for drunkenness by Sergeant Amador and the school closed as a result. 
Comandante Argiiello found him a very useful man except for this failing as he performed as 
a carpenter, smith, and schoolteacher. Without someone to conduct classes, though, the 
problem of illiteracy continued to plague the command. 79 Detailing Alvarez then, 
represented an attempt to relieve this situation. 

As Argiiello sought to improve the soldiers, Alberni, along with Cordoba, attempted to select 
the location for Villa Branciforte. The two men looked at a number of possibilities for this new 
town. They even considered the district around the Presidio and Mission Dolores but 
concluded that there was little to offer here among the sand dunes, problematical water and 
wood supplies, strong winds, and inadequate pasturelands. 80 In fact, they commented that 
the San Francisco garrison had been forced to dig wells to obtain sufficient water for their 
small numbers and had inadequate grazing for their limited stock. 81 It seemed that although 
Anza, Moraga, and Font had once praised the site for its water sources, San Francisco now 
proved less than attractive to a growing community. 



cartridges, so that it seemed enough ammunition was on hand to carry on this practice. Jose Argiiello to Diego 
de Borica, November 29, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VII, 120. 

77. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 606; 642-44. It is possible that Boronda was the same "convict blacksmith" 
who doubled as the schoolteacher in 1791 since he supposedly came to the Presidio of San Francisco the previous 
year. He also taught at Monterey for an unknown period of time and lived about three-quarters of a league from 
the post after he retired as did three other invdlidos, Armenta, Cayuelos, and Toribio, about 1818. Possibly, he had 
a sister who kept a shop in Monterey from 1811 through 1836. Ibid., vol. II, 383, 427, and 785. He married 
Gertrudes Higuera and their son, Jose Canuto (born at the San Francisco in 1792) later became a corporal having 
served at both Monterey and San Francisco presidial districts as well as holding the office of alcalde of Villa 
Branciforte in 1828. Other children included Maria Josefa who, in 1817, married Manuel Antonio Cota, a soldier 
at Monterey during that time, and Maria Guadalupe Marietta who married Josef Gabriel Simeon Espinosa on 
January 8, 1816. Northrcp, Spanish and Mexican Families, 103 and 119. 

78. Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, July 31, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
IX, 42. Argiiello also suggested the individual receive a stipend of two or three pesos per month. Alvarez, a native 
of Mexico City, was 23 at the time. Little else is know of him other than his arrival with Roca in 1796. 

79. Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, May 29, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
VIII, 199-200. 

80. Guest, "The Establishment of the Villa Branciforte" :35. This article provides excellent detail on the theory 
behind the creation of the new settlement and the history of the townsite. 

81. Pedro de Alberni to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, July 1, 17%, in Expediente sobre errecion, 1796-1803, 
(Stevens Collection, University of Texas, Austin, Tex.). 

55 



Indeed, Alberni and Cordoba found the areas around Santa Cruz more to their liking. There, 
Cordoba drew up a plan based upon Spanish fortified-towns, complete with a central plaza. 
He saw that the planning of breastworks for fortifications began, and procured some surplus 
artillery pieces from the San Francisco Bay Area and Monterey for this defensive position. 
Work did not move as rapidly as hoped due to the lack of suitable timber causing delay of 
the completion of ramparts and the erection of a barracks outside the palisade for the 
Catalonians. 82 

Presumably the troops likewise toiled at the Presidio where a number of the Catalonians 
remained on duty, no doubt erecting their own meager quarters. On two occasions requests 
for funds went forward asking for nearly 594 pesos for nine individual quarters and a barracks 
for the infantry and artillery, troops from both of these units alternating between duty at the 
Castillo and the Presidio, thereby requiring accommodations at both stations. By February 28, 
1798, the viceroy approved the expenditure of a mere 192 pesos for this purpose, which means 
that most of the labor must have been furnished by the troops themselves. 83 

Not long after the completion of the infantry and artillery quarters, which may have been 
located along the east side of the quadrangle since that area often seemed void of any 
construction save some type of wall for a barrier, the need for reroofing arose. The same 
problem existed for the quarters of four married leather jacket soldiers and a barracks for the 
unmarried ones, along with the storehouses and the guardhouse. In that instance, some 280 
pesos, 5 reales, and 9 granos already had been expended while the governor wanted additional 
funding for the reroofing for the volunteers, the church, the house of the commander, and the 
family housing for the soldados de cuera. This request concluded with a reminder about the 
danger of fire because of the use of dry straw for roofing materials. 84 Later, Argiiello 
transmitted a bill for reroofing the church, Alberni's home, a sergeant's house, and those of 
three of the cavalrymen. He notified the governor that he required even more funds since 
poor roofing and a general state of dilapidation existed in the line of buildings which housed 
the Catalonians. 85 Evidently, Argiiello's own needs for a set of quarters also presented some 
urgency as he requested support for this building project as well. 86 Likewise, efforts 



82. Sanchez, Spanish Bluecoats, 156-57. 



83. Governor Borica to Viceroy Marques de Branciforte, Monterey, March 23, 1797, AGN, Californias, LXV, 3646 
(microfilm copy, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N. Mex.) and [Jose Maria] Betran to Contaduria Mayor 
de Cuentas, [Mexico], November 8, 1797, ibid., 3647. This group then passed the recommendation on to their 
superior. [Fernando] Herrera, [Juan de la] Fuenta, and [Pedro Maria de] Montverde to Viceroy, [Mexico], 
November 30, 1997, ibid., 3648. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 697 mentions the viceroy's provision of less 
than 200 pesos to the Catalonians for housing while Governor de Borica to Viceroy Branciforte, Monterey, August 
27, 1799, Provincial State Papers, VI, 128 (Bancroft Reference Notes, General California Military, 1790s) indicated 
artillerymen lived at the Presidio when not serving at their emplacements. 

84. Diego de Borica to viceroy, Monterey, January 17, 1799, AGN, Californias, XLVIII, pt. 2, 3090-3091 (microfilm 
copy, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N. Mex.). 

85. Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, January 12, 1800, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XI, 26. 

86. Hermenegildo Sal to Jose Argiiello, San Francisco, April 20, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
VIII, 176-78. This same document authorized a forge to be set up by the soldier, Jose Contreras. 

56 



continued to emplace additional artillery pieces that had been shipped with the Catalonians 
from San Bias for the custillo. 67 

That effort seemed of minor consequence given the still ineffectual state of local defenses. In 
1796, Cordoba also inspected earlier construction efforts, must notably the Castillo de San 
Joaquin. Upon investigation he concluded that from its precipice at 260 varus, the fort suffered 
from "frequent landslides in this terrain" along with rains that could cause the merlons (solid 
portion of a crenelated wall between two open spaces) of adobe reinforced with brick and 
held together with mud to "give way." Engineer Extraordinary Cordoba went on to 
comment, "this battery is built for the main part on sand, and the rest on loose rock.... Just 
in answering signals from ships, firing of the cannon shakes the retaining walls." 
Furthermore, he found the cannon badly mounted and worn out. Of the 13 pieces of artillery, 
(three 24-pounders, two iron 12-pounders, and eight bronze half culverins) only two could 
fire across the 1,600 varus mouth of the bay. Even if these guns could send a projectile across 
the entrance of the port with any degree of accuracy, not enough ammunition existed to 
sustain the barrage. Further, the token garrison of a corporal and six privates from the 
Catalonian Volunteers who aided six artillerymen was not enough to man the guns. Even if 
reinforced by some of the 38 cavalrymen of the Presidio, many of whom assumed duties 
elsewhere away from the area, the custillo offered but token resistance to potential enemies. 

Cordoba recommended that the fort be moved to the commanding high ground and 
estimated that a new structure would cost less than the repair of the old one. In addition, he 
called for a second battery on the other side of the bay entrance and for more troops, the 
shortage of which was made critical by the lack of training among them. 88 Action on 
Cordoba's proposal did not materialize. Cordoba gave further advice in the repairing of the 
Presidio's powder magazine, tower, sentry box, and roofs. 89 Likewise, he drew up plans for 
a new presidio and made a drawing of the custillo and the Cantil Blanco upon which it rested. 
(See figures 12-13.) Possibly, he also oversaw repairs to gun-carriages and other material, 
which rains had damaged, and sought ways to prevent a repetition of such destruction since 
despite the fort's shortcomings it retained some value so long as the enemy did not realize 
the poor state of the defenses. 90 

The ambitious engineer also made a case for two or three ships of war to be stationed at San 
Francisco as a headquarters to patrol the coast for added protection, a concept that the 



87. For instance, San Carlos carried three more guns when it landed Cordoba and the Catalonians. Pedro de 
Alberni to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, April 28, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State papers, VIII, 87 
mentions that bad weather prevented the placement of the cannon brought by the ship so they remained on the 
beach after being unloaded. A second communication specifically mentions three guns being sent for the castillo 
and Cordoba later helped place these along with supervising repair work at the battery, the making of a double 
wall there for the powder magazine, and building a pair of sentry boxes (garitas) at the fort and the Presidio. 
Governor de Borica to the viceroy, Monterey, July 16, 1797, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, XVII, 8 (Bancroft 
Reference Notes, Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s). 

88. Fireman, The Spanish Royal Corps of Engineers, 210-12; Douglas S. Watson, "San Francisco's Ancient Cannon," 
XV California Historical Society Quarterly no. 1 (March 1936): 61. 

89. Fireman, The Spanish Royal Corps of Engineers, 128. 

90. Governor Borica to the viceroy, Monterey, December 6, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, LIV, 394 and Governor Borica to the viceroy, Monterey, January 20, 1797, Provincial State Papers, VI, 
78 (Bancroft Reference Notes, General Military, California, 1790s). 

57 



governor endorsed. 91 Carrying out these proposals probably seemed less urgent, however, 
when the conflict between Spain and France seemed to be heading toward a peaceful 
resolution. 92 

That lull lasted but a short time when word arrived that Spain and Great Britain had resumed 
fighting in late winter of 1797. Possibly San Carlos carried this news when it anchored in San 
Francisco Bay on March 11. By March 13, dispatches from the governor went out ordering 
the seizure of any English ships that attempted to land. Emergency plans circulated for 
driving live-stock inland if an invasion took place. Sentinels stood guard at a number of 
potential anchorages or landing places throughout the province. Rationing went into effect 
in case supplies from Mexico could not be obtained. 93 Once more, a collection for support 
of the war effort against the new enemy brought contributions, with 242 pesos, the smallest 
amount in the province, being given by the people of San Francisco. 94 Perhaps the 
population felt less threatened since San Carlos brought additional cannon for which Sergeant 
Roca took charge in order to emplace them at the Castillo de San Joaquin. 95 Luckily, these 
guns were brought ashore soon after the ship dropped anchor since a storm broke her up at 
the anchorage during the evening of March 23, 1797. The loss of cargo mentioned tobacco, 
hams, and clothing, but no ordnance. Cordoba examined the beached remains and 
pronounced the wreck unrepairable. 96 

Over the next two months two other supply vessels, Conception and Princesa, arrived and 
fared better. 97 While decreasing the fear of the British cutting off supplies, the appearance 
of vessels contributed to local defenses in yet another way. Between 24 and 30 sailors from 
the former craft, along with three of the officers, remained as a detachment with the artillery 
to be employed in the fortifications. The mariners received two extra reales a day as additional 
pay for their services over the several months they laid over in the vicinity of the Presidio. 98 



91. Bancroft, History of California, I, 541; Governor Borica to Viceroy, Monterey, September 21, 1796, Archives of 
California, Provincial State Records, Sacramento, LIV, 381. 

92. Hermenegildo Sal to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, March 30, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, VIII, 104 mentions that a special mass was celebrated by Padre Landaeta in thanksgiving for peace with 
France. 

93. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 542. 

94. Ibid., vol. I, 545. 

95. R. Carrillo to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, March 31, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
VIII, 202. It should be noted that this was the second ship to bear the name, the first San Carlos having been lost 
at sea some years earlier. 

96. Ramon Saavedra to Jose Argiiello, April 26, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, IX, 59; Ramon 
Saavedra to Diego de Borica, April 19 and June 30, 1797, ibid., VIII, 375-76. Saavedra was the captain of San Carlos 
at the time. 'This was not the original San Carlos of 1769, but her successor surnamed El Filipino." Bancroft, History 
of California, vol. I, 706. 

97. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 542. 

98. April 1797, Provincial State Papers, XXI, 255-56 and Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XXIV, 12 
(Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s). Evidently, they left in September 1797, only one of 
their number, the ship's cabin boy (grumete), Diego Flores, electing to remain and enlist as a soldier. Jose Argiiello 
to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, September 30, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, X, 29 and 31. 

58 



Quite probably some of them worked on a second emplacement, which was to supplement 
the Castillo de San Joaquin. Rather than being located on the north side of the harbor's 
entrance as Cordoba had proposed, this Bateria de San Jose would be built between April and 
June 1797, to the east of the harbor's entrance near the anchorage Vancouver first used earlier 
in the decade. Hastily prepared earthworks and brushwood fascines were fastened together 
with leather and maguey cords to form eight embrasures, although the emplacement 
numbered but five guns deemed too small to be of use at the castillo." A palisade-and-mud 
shelter served as a barracks since nothing more substantial could be brought there. The 
inadequate roads from the Presidio meant no carts or other conveyances could be used to 
haul supplies over the alternately sandy and marshy terrain. 100 Cordoba objected to the 
battery's poor construction, which once more rested on a sand foundation, its distance from 
the fort at the mouth of the bay, and the shortage of artillerymen, already too few to manage 
the guns that had been mounted earlier in the decade. After the departure of the sailors, it 
appears that no garrison stood regular watch there. To at least the end of the 18th century, 
a soldier simply paid Bateria San Jose a daily call and occasionally a noncommissioned officer 
from the artillery rode over for a brief inspection. 101 

While the two fortifications continued to require funds and manpower so, too, did 
construction at the Presidio itself. Despite the viceroy's instructions to halt work at the main 
garrison, Argiiello elected to continue his efforts at repairing the houses of the infantry and 
cavalry alike, and to renovate the warehouses, guard room, and other dilapidated elements 
of the post while making some additional improvements such as new doors and window 
frames to certain structures. 102 Even while the presidial district's population attempted to 
improve conditions, the governor sent some of the complement to assist in the establishment 
of a new mission in the southern portion of today's Alameda County. Sergeant Amador took 
a corporal and a five-man detail selected as the escolta for the proposed Mission San Jose (in 
present-day Fremont), on June 9, 1797. The group put up a temporary chapel (enramada) and 



99. Tays, "Castillo de San Joaquin," 24-25. 



100. Josef de Itturigaray to Don Jose Antonio Cavalerro, Mexico, September 21, 1805, "Report Together With the 
Official Transcript of the Manuscript with Reference to the Damage Caused by Tempests in December 1798, and 
January 1799, to the Batteries of the Port of San Francisco in Upper California," (Spanish MS, California Historical 
Society, San Francisco, Calif.). 

The road to the bateria may have followed the mission trail, meaning it ran from the presidio's north gate circling 
the quadrangle on the east side and descended the hill across Funston Avenue, then followed fairly closely along 
Presidio Avenue to the north of the main entrance to Letterman Hospital, where it crossed today's boundary walls 
about Filbert. From there it meandered over high grounds above the early sloughs and wet lands dropping down 
to what became Fort Mason. The counterpart to this path led to the castillo and the landing, possibly taking the 
easiest contours above the cemetery and stables area to the west, where it forked off to reach the anchorage and 
the fort by the most direct routes. G. W. Hendry and J. N. Bowman, "The Spanish and Mexican Adobes and Other 
Buildings in San Francisco Bay Counties 1776 to about 1850," Vol. IX, Presidio and Yerba Buena (MS, Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1940), 1143-1145. 

101. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 701-702. 

102. Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, July 20, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
VIII, 208 noted that the comandante thought it best to "proceed with the utmost economy to finish the little work 
remaining on the fort and the battery at Yerba Buena" and also to expend the necessary funds for the presidio. 
Viceroy Branciforte to Governor de Borica, Arizpe, February 28, 1798, ibid., X, 12 granted nearly 469 pesos for a 
door and window frames plus reroofing of the post blockhouse. 

59 



Figures 12-13. Spanish army engineer Alberto de Cordova executed two drawings related to 
the Castillo de San Joaquin, one of which provided a cross section of the Cantil Blanco and 
the other of which provided one of the most concise views of this approximately 40 varas by 
60 varas emplacement. Positions exist for a dozen guns. The proximity of the west side of the 
fortification to the edge of the cliff stands out, this being one of the problems cited by 
Cordova in his analysis of the placement and construction of the battery. (Provincias Internas, 
216: 236, AGN) Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. The information translates 
as follows: 

Plan of the Battery of San Joaquin constructed on the northernmost point of land for 
the defense of the entrance to the Port of San Francisco. 

Explanation: 

A. Gate of the Battery 

B. Main Walls of adobe 

C. Guardhouse 

D. Storage for implements for the Artillery 

E. Corridor to the Guardhouse 

F. Kitchen 

G. Wooden Esplanade 

H. Cannon by which to defend the narrowest entrance of the Port 

K. Embrasures of the Battery constructed upon sand 

M. Embrasures of the Battery constructed on rock and sand 

Note: 

The main walls of the Guardhouse and kitchen are of adobe and equally are those 
utilized for the battery and which are brick fastened with mud. 

Presidio of San Francisco July 20, 1796 
Alberto de Cordova 



60 



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62 



participated in the usual dedication ceremonies on July 11, Trinity Sunday. Then, the party 
left. Five days later Amador returned with more men to cut lumber for construction. After 
two weeks he determined that most of the troops could go back to San Francisco with him 
while the escolta remained to complete the work. 103 

This withdrawal proved premature. Amador barely had time to reach the Presidio when duty 
called him back to Mission San Jose. The local Indians threatened to kill the Christian natives 
living at the new mission. In response, the sergeant led 22 men as a show of strength. Two 
brief skirmishes ensued in mid-July. It seems that the warriors dug pits to impede the use of 
horses. This caused Amador's force to dismount and fight on foot. In the hand-to-hand 
struggle, seven or eight Indians died while two of the Spanish soldiers received wounds. 
Amador returned from this foray with 83 Christian deserters, who evidently had been at 
Mission Santa Clara, and nine of the non-Christians who supposedly were implicated in 
previous troubles. Some of these prisoners went off to perform hard labor in irons. Short 
rations and floggings completed the punitive measures taken to dampen any future thoughts 
about independence among the natives. 104 

In return for the Presidio providing a mailed fist to support the conversion of the Indians, the 
missions theoretically helped support the garrison with food and other necessities. For 
example, in 1795 Mission Dolores sold 2,831 pesos' worth of goods to the garrison. Sometimes, 
however, the local padre refused to provide certain things, such as sheep, to the 
comandante. 105 Since religious and military "cooperation" continued as a matter of frequent 
friction between the two institutions, Governor Borica thought it wise to reinstate the rancho 
del rey. WG Rather than just pasturing the herds in the hills immediately surrounding the post, 
Borica wanted stock sent to a place called Buriburi, a location between todays San Bruno and 
San Mateo. In order to set up there, a mission herd then grazing at the site had to be 
relocated. The padres objected. Their complaints brought about an investigation of the matter. 

Argiiello reported to the governor that in his opinion the rancho del rey in no way threatened 
the mission's livestock. The padres had at least a half-dozen other good places where they 
kept cattle and other animals. Argiiello had no sympathy for the Franciscans' desire to 
maintain their monopoly on the peninsula, since he claimed that the missionaries picked out 
their undersized beeves to sell to the troops and sailors. Additionally, he contended that the 
priests violated the posted price regulations by from 20 to 25 percent. The commandant sent 



103. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 555. 

104. Jose Argiiello to Governor de Borica, San Francisco, July 30, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, IX, 3940; Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 548; 710-712. 

105. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 713-14. In 1797 the governor ordered that all blankets be purchased from 
the San Francisco mission rather than importing this item from Mexico. Ibid., 715. 

106. A fiscal rationale also prompted Borica' s actions since incoming vessels had no choice but to buy their beef 
from the missions at high prices. The military could provide the meat at lower prices yet still obtain a profit to 
help offset local operations at the Presidio. A herd of 510 cows, 6 bulls, 97 heifers, and 13 steers would start this 
project through purchase from the missions. Governor Borica to presidio comandante, Monterey, September 1, 1797, 
Provincial State Papers, IV, 255-56 Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s). At the end of 
September the stock arrived and Argiiello saw to it that a corral and bull pen were made at Buriburi where plenty 
of pasture and water existed. He wanted 200 more cows and stated that he would keep careful accounts of the 
whole enterprise. Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, September 29, 1797, ibid., XVI, 92. 

63 



along bills to substantiate his charges. Evidently, Arguello's words convinced his superiors 
because the viceroy elected to keep the rancho in spite of objections. 107 

The first year succeeded in proving the worth of this venture as stock increased considerably 
due to abundance of pastures. 108 This abundance seemed to trigger an attempt to rustle 
some of the herd. In April 1797, two soldiers caught stealing from the rancho were put into 
irons while their two accomplices suffered a similar fate. 109 A month later, Argiiello 
complained that bears raised havoc among the Buriburi stock, attacking some of the cattle for 
food. He dispatched a pair of extra soldiers for protection. Soon, they killed six bears and 
captured four cubs. 110 

Unfortunately, Argiiello could not handle all problems with the same ease. Late in 1797, 
misappropriations by the Presidio's habilitado, Lasso de la Vega, caused a deficit of more than 
1,400 pesos. The alferez responsible for the defalcation had half his pay attached until the 
government received repayment for the indebtedness. In the meantime, the shortage remained 
on the San Francisco Company's books, causing all supplies to be cut off except for a few 
necessities. This caused hardships for the men, especially those with families. Argiiello also 
felt it unjust that the Catalonians and the artillerymen did not have to share the burden nor 
did Lasso de la Vega whose poor administration had cost the post revenues. 111 



107. Frank M. Stanger, "A California Rancho Under Three Flags, a History of Rancho Buri Buri in San Mateo 
County," XVII California Historical Society Quarterly no. 3 (September 1938): 246; Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, 
San Francisco, July 28, 1798, Archives of California, Missions and Colonization, LI I, 69-79 (Bancroft Reference Notes, 
Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s). Permission to continue the operation came from Viceroy Azanza to Governor 
Borica, Mexico, March 13, 1799, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, X, 222. 

Argiiello had also pointed out that when the rancho del rey had been situated at the Presidio each family with 
children kept from three to four milk cows, and that these same cows furnished milk to the sick and the officers 
of incoming ships. He wanted to bring back this practice as a consequence of starting the new ranch. Jose Argiiello 
to Governor Borica, San Francisco, July 24, 1797, ibid., I, 72. 

108. Jose Argiiello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, December 31, 1798, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 
XVII, 23 (Bancroft Reference Notes, 1790s). The same document noted that a fair crop had been raised during 1798. 
Just two years before, some shortages existed, especially of beans. Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Borica, San 
Francisco, January 3, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, VIII, 5-6. Despite an increase in population 
then, the Presidio's genie de razon of 80 men, 44 women, 36 boys, and 46 girls enjoyed a better food supply than 
in times past. Photocopy of Census dated December 31, 1798 (Latulipe File, California Historical Society Library, 
San Francisco, CA). 

109. Jose Argiiello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, April 21, 1798, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
X, 112. Evidently they attempted to make off with a calf and a sheep. Earlier that year, authorities placed the 
soldier Joaquin Mesa in fetters for lack of a chain since he had been arrested for telling lies after having been sent 
to mend the corral. When challenged, he became insolent, struck the sergeant, then rode off on his horse. 
Raymundo Carrillo to Governor Borica, San Francisco, February 5 and February 28, 1797, ibid., Provincial State 
Papers, IX, 64-65. 

110. Jose Argiiello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, May 29, 1798, ibid., X, 104. 

111. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, n. 693. Originally, Habilitado Raymundo Carrillo showed 3,234 pesos 
owing the presidial company in 1796. Ramundo Carrillo's Report, December 31, 1796, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 10. The memoria for 1797, however, indicated an indebtedness of 1,431 
vesos, a figure which was adjusted to 1,425 pesos later in the year. Memoria para el Presidio de San Francisco, 
Mexico, January 31, 1797, ibid., VIII, 168 and Jose Argiiello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, October 21, 1797, 
Provincial State Papers, XVI, 80-81 (Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio of San Francisco, 1790s). 

64 



Even as Argiiello faced the challenge of balancing his company's books, he may have found 
some little solace from the announcement of his promotion to capitan graduado (essentially a 
brevet captain). 112 Previously, the governor noted that the commanders at the Presidios 
performed functions far above their grade of lieutenant and deserved promotions. He 
underscored Argiiello's 24 years of service, indicating that the man had come up through the 
ranks and had served in the grade of a teniente for 9V2 years. 113 Later, the governor 
attempted to obtain a commensurate pay raise for Argiiello and all the other commissioned 
officers but his efforts came to no avail. Nor did his request for additional horse soldiers 
produce the desired result. 114 

Pay raises and reinforcements did not come from Mexico in these last days of the 18th 
century, but bad news did. 115 First, in May 1798, the usually happy announcement of the 
arrival of a transport from San Bias received a less than warm welcome. The frigate 
Conception carried more than just goods and nine new padres. It brought smallpox. Alberni 
intended not to let the infected victims land, but he changed his mind and provided a shelter, 
which served to quarantine the ship's complement for 13 days. 116 Moreover, Argiiello stated 



112. Jose Argiiello to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, March 8, 1798, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
X, 100. 

113. Governor Borica to the viceroy, Monterey, September 16, 1796, ibid., LIV, 379. 

114. Borica proposed an increase of 150 pesos per annum for the ten subalterns in his command since they suffered 
great privations. They and their families had little means and lived far from decorous lives on their subsistence. 
He wrote, "I have seen the wives and daughters wash their own clothes, make bread for sale, sew clothes for 
others" and perform many other tasks, "yet they cannot get shoes and stockings for their children." Governor 
Borica to the viceroy, Monterey, March 18, 1799, Provincial State Papers, VI, 120-21 (Bancroft Reference Notes, 
General California Military, 1790s). 

On the same day he requested more cavalrymen who could travel great distances on their speedy mounts and 
who, when married, would increase the population of the province. Ibid., VI, 121-22. He had asked for 105 more 
lancers in lieu of replenishing the ranks of the Catalonians. He also wanted three captains and an adjutant 
inspector, presumably promoting these officers from his senior lieutenants, all at a total increase in costs of 18,624 
pesos per year. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 545. 

115. Comparative numbers of troops for the remaining years of the 18th century show a relatively static picture. 
In 1797 Argiiello commanded Alferez Manuel Rodriguez, Sergeant Pedro Amador, four corporals, 31 soldiers, and 
seven invdlidos (Alferez Lasso, two corporals, and four privates). The crown owned some 999 pesos to the company. 
Jose Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 31, 1797, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, V, 10. The next year he turned in the same figure and noted that of the 25 men from the First 
Company of Catalonian Volunteers (Alberni as captain, a sergeant first class or first sergeant, one drummer, three 
corporals first class, two corporals second class, and eighteen privates), five soldiers and a corporal served at the 
Castillo de San Joaquin and four soldiers with a corporal were stationed at the Bateria de San Jose. Of the 
artillerymen in the district, five privates and a corporal occupied the castillo and the sergeant remained at the 
Presidio. He listed the same seven invdlidos, all of whom lived in San Jose. The artillery consisted of three iron 24- 
pounder cannons, one iron 12-po under, eight bronze half-culverins of eight pounds, all in the batteries, and a pair 
of bronze swivel guns on useless carriages at Santa Cruz and Santa Clara. Jose Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, 
December 1, 1798, ibid., Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XVI, 94; ibid., XV, 311. In terms of the soldado 
de cuera, their numbers scarcely had changed from the previous decade nor had their duties and daily life of 
military drill, cattle herding, and the like. Even many of the surnames remained the same as family members took 
up the profession of arms when their elders retired, transferred, or died. See Appendix C of this study for typical 
rosters of the San Francisco Company from 1787 and 1798. 

116. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 544n. and 546n; Pedro de Alberni to Diego de Borica, San Francisco, 
April 30, 1798, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 209; ibid., May 31, 1798, X, 93. 

65 



that he would see to it that the instructions for inoculating against smallpox must be carried 
out and that he would be the first to vaccinate his family as an example to the rest of the 
inhabitants. 117 

Mercifully, pestilence did not sweep through the community, although sickness, especially 
venereal and pulmonary diseases, ravaged the local Indian population in the district. Many 
children died of the latter illness and dysentery. 118 Some neophytes fled Mission San 
Francisco in May 1798, perhaps to escape the grim reaper, who visited the mission all too 
frequently. Shortly thereafter, they returned voluntarily and received no punishment. 119 

As usual, the weather made life miserable as well. Rain and winds damaged roofs. 120 
Hurricane-force gales of 1798 and 1799 destroyed the adobe of local construction, causing 
Alberni to echo Cordoba's earlier recommendations. 121 On February 28, 1799, the Catalonian 
conveyed the sad state of affairs. Of the Castillo he wrote: 

1. First, the two walls which serve as ramparts and defense for said fort were 
located east and south. The door is found in the latter of these. Because they 
are constructed of adobe of very poor quality, the storm demolished them. 

2. The merlons which face north and were made of fascine were constructed by the 
Extraordinary Engineer don Alberto de Cordova. They have come undone and 
have fallen to the ground because water had seeped and rotted the leather and 
maguay cords with which they were tied. 

3. The merlons built in an easterly direction and its building of adobe covered by 
bricks which were cemented with mud are all demolished. 

4. The merlons situated to the northwest, although they are made from stone of 
the same terrain and constructed of sand from the bar at the mouth of the 
harbor, also are sagging out and at the point of falling into the sea. For this 
reason, I ordered the cannons and also the sentry box that were at the battery 
to be taken off in order to avoid a mishap. 



117. Jose Arguello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, May 25, 1798, ibid., X, 105. 

118. Jose Arguello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, December 31, 1798, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Benicia Military, XV, 326-327. Jose Arguello's Report, December 31, 1800, ibid., XVI, 132-135. For more on 
this topic consult Sherburne F. Cook, The Conflict Between the California Indian and White Civilization (Berkeley, Calif.: 
University of California Press, 1976). Also see, Cook's The Population of the California Indians 1769-1970 (Berkeley, 
Calif.: University of California Press, 1976). 

119. Francisco de Arguello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, May 28, 1798, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, X, 93. 

120. Jose Arguello to Governor Borica, San Francisco, December 31, 1798, ibid., Provincial State Papers, Benicia 
Military, XV, 326-27. 

121. By this point Cordoba had completed his work on California fortifications, made his surveys, and produced 
a general map of the province before returning to Mexico in the autumn of 1798. Bancroft, History of California, Vol. 
I, 545. 

66 



5. The wall that serves as a rampart to the blockhouse [and] looks toward the 
south has its adobe building demolished. There is a sand dune that surrounds 
it at this time. It leans its full weight against said wall. The dune is raising 
above the wall and threatens its ruin. 

6. The structure serves as a barracks for the troops of the garrison of the Castillo 
and also for the defense of the stores. Its construction being of sandy adobe and 
so eaten away in the south wall, with another small storm it will come down. 
As its roof has little slope, and also because the roof tile which covers it is of 
such poor quality, the rains comes in everywhere. 

7. It easily is noticed that the intermediate passage from the blockhouse to the 
fortification is so dilapidated on both sides of its narrow passage that it barely 
retains enough space to permit the ten to twelve varas width necessary to pass 
by. Since the precipice to the side of the fort is of pure sand, it is possible during 
one of the earth tremors that are experienced here, it can be split because of its 
narrowness, thus leaving the aforementioned fortification [cut off from the 
mainland]. 

Alberni's description of the Bateria de Yerba Buena gave just as bleak a prognosis. He 
advocated the razing of the two previous defenses and their replacement by two new, 
soundly built forts at the mouth of the bay. Although none of the available cannon could fire 
across the channel, Alberni believed that a cross fire could inflict grave damage upon enemy 
craft, especially if the ships fought against the prevailing winds as they left the bay. 122 



122. Report of Pedro de Alberni, San Francisco, February 28, 1799, in Josef de Itturigaray, "Report Together With 
Official Transcripts...," (California Historical Society, San Francisco, CA). This bound volume likewise contains a 
review of the state of the missions throughout California, its agriculture, and numerous other types of information 
concerning the defense of the province, for instance, a chart detailed the Presidio of San Francisco's cavalry 
strength by location during September 1799. Two privates guarded the herd, and two more stayed at the Royal 
Ranch. Escoltas consisted of a corporal and three privates at Santa Cruz, a corporal and four privates at Santa 
Clara, another corporal headed six privates at San Jose, while two privates remained at Mission Dolores. A pair 
of soldiers carried the mails, another was detailed to San Diego, one more provided escort to the local clergy, and 
two men carried salt from Monterey. This left only the commander, an ensign, a sergeant, one corporal, one cadet, 
and six privates free for duty at the post. 

Another segment mentioned the three 24-pounder iron cannons, the broken 12-pounder iron piece, and the good 
12-pounder iron gun, along with the eight bronze 8-pounder culverins. The two swivel guns at Santa Clara and 
Santa Cruz respectively remained unserviceable. Continuing, Argiiello stated that in October 1799, he counted 300 
solid shots of 24 pounds, 200 of 12 pounds, and 700 of eight pounds. He had six quintales of wicks, 300 bags of 
coarse brown linen paper for 24-pounder charges, 783 for those of 12-pounders, and 200 for eight-pounders. 
Equipment consisted of two gunner's ladles for a 24-pounder, one of 12, one of eight, and one of four. There were 
three rammers for use with a 24-pounder, three of 12, and seven of eight-pounder type. He had one each wad 
removers of four-, eight-, and 24-pounder type and a scrapper for the 24-pounder. There were six linstocks, 36 
handspikes, two goat paunch priming horns, three vents for 24-pounders, a half dozen for the 12-pounders, and 
13 for the eight-pounders. There was a set of measures for powder to include one-, two-, four-, and 6-pounders, 
and a libra ball caliber gauge for four-, six-, eight-, and 24-pounders. A complete crane, one press and two half- 
presses, five combat lanterns, two "secret" lanterns for use at night or in the dark, a pair of claw hammers, two 
mallets, two combat vats, 21 barrels of pitch, six casks, a large kettle, one arms chest with key and three shelves, 
seven basket lamps, a tin horn (a speaking trumpet?), and one flag with the royal arms completed the inventory. 

67 



Despite the agitations of men like Alberni and Cordoba, who sent numerous official reports 
to Mexico City, major improvements in local defense works nearly ceased. Even a plan by 
Governor Borica for a rebuilding of the Presidio itself on a grander scale, complete with shops 
and, for the first time, a hospital, never proceeded past the proposal stage due to the fact that 
the royal treasury had no money to spare. 123 (See figures 14-15.) The little funding that did 
exist went to repair the constant ravages caused by nature as strong summer winds and 
heavy winter rains destroyed the precarious overhead protection and damaged the poorly 
made structures that comprised the Presidio of San Francisco. 124 

Even as the garrison attempted to cope with the elements, the presidial population met what 
ultimately would be a more potent threat. In 1799 the first "Boston Men" sailed into port 
aboard the armed merchant ship Eliza from the United States. The Yankees bought supplies 
and left with the promise that they would sail on without again touching ashore in California. 
Others of their countrymen would follow but, for the moment, this original exchange with 
people from the United States caused little concern. 

More immediate troubles presented themselves in the last year of the 18th century. From the 
southern part of the district a series of disturbances culminated in arson as some of the 
settlers at the pueblo of San Jose set fire to the comisionado's residence while he was holding 
a party inside. Men from the Presidio rode out to restore order in what proved to be the 
beginning of many challenges to authority throughout the province with the passage of 
time. 125 About the same time, Indians killed two neophytes and promptly fled into the hills 
around Mission San Jose. The experienced campaigner Sergeant Amador took to the field. 
After a brief skirmish he caught some suspects. Lacking an interpreter, Amador could not 
question his captives. Despite the lack of communication and evidence, he ordered the 
prisoners flogged with 15 to 20 blows each. 126 This type of action reflected the attitude of 
the soldiers toward the local Native Americans. 127 Such disdain kept the two peoples 
separated rather than bringing them together as had been the goal behind Spanish 
colonization efforts. 

Had the indigenous people united, they could have made matters even worse for the small 
Spanish-speaking complement, especially since the Presidio's population dwindled further in 
the spring of 1800. At that time Pedro de Alberni took several of his infantrymen and their 



123. Borica's Plan, Monterey, June 27, 1799, AGN, Provincias Internas, tomo 16 (microfilm copy, Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley, Calif.). The inclusion of a hospital represented a much needed addition since 
the garrison depended principally on home remedies for its medical care and perhaps an occasional assist for a 
ship's surgeon when one was in port. 

124. Jose Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 31, 1800, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Benicia Military, XVI, 132-35. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, ibid., Provincial State Papers, XI, 29. The cost 
for repairs at the end of the decade amounted to 1,799 pesos but only represented a stopgap as damage constantly 
plagued the garrison. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 697. 

125. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 718. 

126. Jose Argiiello to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, May 20, 1800, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XI, 32. 

127. Robert F. Heizer and Alan J. Almquist, The Other Californians: Prejudice and Discrimination Under Spain, Mexico, 
and the United States to 1920 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California, 1971) provides thoughtful analysis of this 
subject. 

68 



families to Monterey. Their relocation left the outpost with a token force of 13 foot soldiers, 
five gunners, and no soldados de cuera at the Presidio, the last mentioned unit being scattered 
at the missions and various other detached assignments. Arguello did not have enough men 
to operate the batteries and guard the Indian labor force at the same time. 128 So it was that 
the considerable talents and treasure expended on the Bay Area martial establishment during 
the 1790s brought little improvement in securing Spain's claim to this strategic harbor. Only 
the international consequences of an attack and the great distance from a strong enemy power 
saved the forgotten garrison from collapse. Nevertheless, the troops held on despite an ever 
worsening state of affairs. The outlook for the future was not promising. 



128. Jose Arguello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, May 28, 1800, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, XI, 29 stated that Alberni took his sergeant, the drummer, six soldiers with their families, and the carpenter 
Rafael Gledo [sic] under an escort led by Sergeant Amador to Monterey where they became part of the garrison. 
This move meant the abandoning of the bateria. On a more positive note, the soldados all had eight horses apiece, 
besides the company's 22 packhorses and mules, along with 879 head of cattle at the rancho del rey. San Francisco, 
December 31, 1800, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XXVIII, 5 and 13 (Bancroft Reference Notes, Presidio 
of San Francisco, 1790s). 

69 



Figures 14-15. In the 1790s, a proposed relocation of the Presidio toward the entrance of the 
bay brought about the drafting of two new plans for the facility, neither of which actually 
were constructed. The layout resembles the first plan of 1776 and follows the standardized 
configuration for presidios, including bastions. The main difference between the two designs 
is the placement of the gate in relation to the post chapel. Presumably, the new post would 
have been located at approximately the site of Fort Winfield Scott's parade ground. Figure 
15 accompanied a June 26, 1795 report by Hermenegildo Sal to Governor Diego de Borica, 
which provided costs for the Presidio's various construction efforts from July 26, 1776 through 
November 1781. It featured a square of approximately 130 varus (Provincias Internas, 6: 8: 216, 
AGN). Engineer Alberto de Cordova prepared figure 16, dated July 24, 1796. (Provincias 
Internas, 216: 245, AGN) Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. 



70 



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72 



CHAPTER 3 
WEAK AS THE SPANISH DEFENSES ARE, 1801-1822 



The new century brought few changes to the Presidio of San Francisco. In 1800, Governor 
Arrillaga found all of the California presidios in poor condition. Bad weather had ruined 
many buildings. Many of the shoddy forts with corroding cannon offered little coastal 
defense. The troops continued to be poorly equipped and supplied, and the government 
rarely expended any money to keep up the posts. 1 Such conditions would not improve 
during the last two decades of Spanish control in California. 

Despite the sorry state of affairs, the new century opened on an optimistic note. Early in 1801, 
the habilitado general in Mexico announced that the presidial company of San Francisco 
requested memorias amounting to much less than the annual allotment of the company. Of the 
four presidios in California only the one in San Francisco recorded a surplus in its accounts. 
This fact ensured that the soldiers at the northernmost Spanish military post on the coast of 
North America would get all of the supplies they had requisitioned. Never again would this 
situation exist, because Spain found other problems more pressing than the concerns of her 
California subjects. 2 

At least the viceroy of New Spain notified the governor of the Califomias that the 
government would reimburse the men of the San Francisco Company 282 pesos 5 reales for 
expenses incurred in renewing the roofs of the church and the houses of the company 
commandant, the sergeant, and three soldiers. 3 The rethatched roofs did not last very long. 
During the winter of 1801-1802 the buildings of the post suffered severely from strong winds. 
Commandant Argiiello notified the governor late in February that "hurricanes" on the second 
and the 17th of the month destroyed many roofs, both old and new. 4 Work started on the 
much needed repairs. In July, the viceroy wrote the governor approving the expenditures for 
the renovating of the Castillo. Ultimately (by 1805), an extensive reconstruction took place there 
with Indian captives erecting a stone wall on three sides and a palisade on the fourth. They 
also provided a new casemate some 300 yards behind the fort itself. 5 

The sergeant of the company did not have the opportunity of living under his new roof for 
long. In June, the viceroy sent the royal cedula which at last permitted Pedro Amador to retire. 
The news no doubt reached California late in the year. 6 Amador's departure brought a 



1. Rockwell D. Hunt and Nellie De Grift Sanchez, A Short History of California (New York, N.Y.: Thomas Y. 
Crowell Company, 1929), 131-32. 

2. Report of Manuel Carcaba, Mexico, January 31, 1801, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XVI, 143. 

3. [Felix Berenguer de] Maquina to the governor of California, Mexico, February 11, 1801, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, XI, 79. 

4. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, February 25, 1802, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, XI, 224. 

5. Tays, "Castillo de San Joaquin," 24-25; [Felix Berenguer de] Maquina to Ad Interim Governor of California, 
Mexico, July 13, 1802, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 65; Bancroft, History of 
California, vol. II, 127. 

6. Ibid., June 9, 1801, XI, 96-97. 

73 



promotion for Corporal Luis Peralta to fill the vacancy. 7 He assumed his rank and settled 
into the house provided for the company sergeant. 

Probably at the same time Amador received the royal cedula in San Francisco, an order from 
Governor Arrillaga arrived, which, notified the post commandant that a ship and two frigates 
of the British navy had come around Cape Horn. The governor urged his subordinate to be 
vigilant so that he would not be taken by surprise. To make certain that no British craft 
passed the fort disguised as the Spanish vessel bringing the memorias, Arrillaga arranged for 
some special signals to be used. Henceforth, the San Bias ships arriving at night would fire 
cannon shots at certain intervals that the fort's guns would answer. 8 

In July of 1802 the brigantine Activo arrived in port with the annual delivery of the memorias. 
In addition to the welcomed commodities the ship disembarked a corporal and five 
artillerymen to replace those recalled from the Castillo de San Joaquin. 9 

The royal cattle ranch at Buriburi (in present-day San Mateo County) no doubt supplied the 
men of Activo with meat for their return voyage, as was the usual practice. On the same day 
that the ship arrived in port, Argiiello reported to his superior that the annual roundup had 
been completed. The presidial district soldiers had branded 330 cattle, which may have been 
additions to the herd that numbered almost 1,200 head during the previous year. The herd 
continued to grow at a steady rate to the point where it became larger than needed. Finally, 
in March of 1803, Governor Arrillaga ordered that all but 25 or 30 of the cows and heifers be 
driven to the Monterey 10 

In May of 1803, Alexander sailed into San Francisco Bay ~ the second American ship to arrive 
in the harbor. She stayed seven days taking on provisions, wood, and water. Four months 
later, Alexander returned with another American ship, probably Hazard. Argiiello insisted that 
the former craft had been well supplied on her first visit to his port and ordered the captain 
to leave after a stay of only one day. Argiiello permitted Hazard to stay at San Francisco for 
eight days after he inspected the vessel and saw that the ship badly needed supplies and 
repairs. The commandant gave strict orders to the Americans to have nothing to do with the 
Spaniards at San Francisco in part in obedience to directives from Mexico, and also because 
of his own worries over the preponderance of foreign military strength in the bay. Hazard 
carried 22 cannon and 20 swivel guns with a crew of 50 to man them. Comandante Argiiello 



7. Born around 1760 in Tubac, of Corporal Gabriel Antonio Peralta and Francisca Xaviera Valenzula, Luis Maria 
was only 15 when he left as part of the second Anza expedition for California. Following in his father's footsteps, 
he joined the San Francisco presidial company in 1782. Some eight years later he rose to corporal. From 1798 
through 1800 he commanded the guard at Mission San Jose. By 1807, he became the comisionado at Pueblo San Jose. 
After retirement, he obtained the grant for Rancho San Antonio, in 1820, and became an elector and juez de paz from 
1830-1833. He and his wife, Maria Loreto Aviso, who also came with Anza, had 16 children. She died in July 1836, 
while her spouse lived until August of 1851. Both are buried at Mission Santa Clara. Northop, Spanish-Mexican 
Families, 248-249. 

8. Jose Arrillaga to the commandants of San Francisco and San Diego, Loreto, July 14, 1801, ibid., XI, 97-99. 

9. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 28, 1802, ibid., Provincial State Papers, XI, 230. 

10. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 24, 1802, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Benicia Military, XVI, 207 and Governor Arrillaga to Jose Argiiello, Loreto, March 10, 1803, ibid., Provincial State 
Papers, XI, 227-28. 

74 



had only two cavalrymen, his few artillerymen, and some Catalonians with only nine 
workable cannon on hand in case of trouble. 11 

The effective strength at San Francisco shrank further at the end of the year. Argiiello 
received a letter ordering him to send the last few men of the Company of Catalonian 
Volunteers back to Mexico. 12 Because foot soldiers had not proved as useful in California as 
the cavalrymen of the presidial companies, they would not be ordered to California again 
until the end of the Spanish period of control. To augment the depleted California forces, the 
presidial companies began recruiting. 13 

As the commander sought replacements, he also had to contend with the annual problem of 
winter rains, which again caused damage at the Presidio early in 1804. Argiiello notified the 
governor that the precipitation ruined some of his powder. The commandant promised that 
he would repair the roofs when he had the time. 14 The destruction continued throughout the 
year so that by the end of November damage extended to the hut and walls of the Yerba 
Buena Battery and as well as to the Presidio and Fort San Joaquin. Argiiello suggested that, 
as the battery near the anchorage lay in near total ruins, it well might be relocated to a more 
favorable site on the hill overlooking the anchorage (present-day Telegraph Hill). The 
commandant made the mistake of admitting that it would be more expensive to relocate the 
battery than to rebuild the old one; it is not surprising that nothing came of his suggestion. 15 

Whatever his good intentions about repair work, Argiiello probably did not get to that job 
for some time. A few days after the first winter storm Hazard again sailed into port. The 
captain of the ship told the presidial commander that in his three-month voyage from the 
Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands he had experienced severe storms that had caused him the loss 
of two officers, three men, three small boats, and the top of the ship's mizzenmast. After 
Argiiello confirmed the need for repairs, he permitted the Yankees to stay for a month at the 
Yerba Buena anchorage. 

In spite of the fact that the American frigate had lost five crew members on the trip to San 
Francisco, the Spaniards still counted 76 men on the ship. Because Argiiello only numbered 
eight men in his garrison at San Francisco, he immediately withdrew more troops from the 
mission escoltas to increase his forces at San Francisco as long as Hazard remained in the 
harbor. Temporarily, retired soldiers replaced the regular members of the mission 



11. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 16-17. 



12. Governor Arrillaga to commandants of the Presidios of San Diego, Monterey, and San Francisco, Monterey, 
July 23, 1803, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 187. 

13. Mariano G. Vallejo, "Documentos para la historia de California," vol. XV, Pt. 1 (Bancroft Library, University 
of California, Berkeley, Calif.). 

14. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 26, 1804, Archives of California, Provincial Sate 
Papers, Benicia Military, XVI, 262. 

15. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, November 29, 1804, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, XI, 365-66. 

75 



detachments. Later in the year, Argiiello received a royal order forbidding him to permit the 
entry into the port of any foreign ships. 16 

Indeed, Argiiello needed his men in the interior rather than at San Francisco looking out for 
vessels in port. For one thing, during the years between 1800 and 1820 the deaths of Indians 
at Mission San Francisco continued to be incredibly high. On average, 200 replacements per 
year, over these two decades, had to be brought in annually to maintain the mission 
community at around a thousand. 17 Besides rounding up potential converts for Mission 
Dolores and other missions in the district, the troops increasingly faced calls to apprehend 
runaway neophytes. They also went out in punitive expeditions against those local groups 
that maintained their autonomy in the face of pressures to convert. In this instance, most of 
the summer and fall of 1804, troops responded to Indian disturbances in the area around the 
missions of San Jose and Santa Clara. Sergeant Peralta led a small force into the hills after a 
group of Indians who had killed a neophyte. The soldiers could not find the suspects, wrote 
Peralta, because they lacked good guides. A second expedition, again led by Peralta and made 
up of the few remaining Catalonians at San Francisco, turned in a more successful report. The 
soldiers caught 11 escaped neophytes and returned them to their missions, along with 
rounding up a large number of non-Christians. They turned over the women and children 
to the missionaries and put the 32 men to work at the Presidio. 18 

The Indian prisoners confined at the Presidio repaired the fortifications where they made a 
few new improvements at the castillo. Within the next year the Indians built a wall around 
the fort. Because storing powder in the guardroom presented a danger, they constructed a 
small powder magazine 300 yards away, presumably to the rear. The soldiers also supervised 
the completion of a shed to shelter the animals. In spite of all these efforts, Argiiello had to 
admit in his report that after a year's toil the fort and battery remained in poor condition. 19 

The Indians who started work at the Castillo de San Joaquin had much company during the 
first half of 1805; their numbers rose considerably as disturbances erupted again and again 
in the area near Mission San Jose and Mission Santa Clara. In January Sergeant Peralta led 
a campaign against the independence-minded inhabitants of the San Jose region. He killed 
11 and captured 30. 20 

Other rumors of a suspected Indian uprising proved to be well founded when the Presidio 
commander sent his son, Alferez Luis Argiiello, to Santa Clara where he conducted an 



16. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Benicia 
Military, XVI, 263; Jose Argiiello to port commanders in California, San Francisco, January 31, 1804, ibid., 
Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 472; Sergeant Luis Peralta's Report, San Francisco, February 3, 1804, ibid., 
Provincial State Papers, XI, 380, and Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, November 28, 1804, ibid., 
XI, 336. Peralta listed 16 of the crew as "Indians of San Bias," but he probably meant "Indians of Sandwich," a fairly 
common term in the reports from Spanish California for Hawaiians. 

17. Alan K. Brown, "Pomponio's World," VI (San Francisco Westerners) Argonaut (May 1975): 4-5. 

18. Luis Peralta [to Jose Argiiello?], Santa Clara, September 27, 1804; Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San 
Francisco, September 29 and October 26, 1804, Archives of California, XI, 334, 354, and 358, respectively. 

19. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, September 28, 1805, ibid., XII, 31; Jose Argiiello's Habilitado 
Report, ibid., Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XVI, 256. 

20. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 35. 

76 



investigation in February. Peralta, who went along, found one of the missionaries wounded 
by an arrow. 21 

Before the guilty parties could be identified, a more serious incident occurred near what is 
now the town of Livermore. The local inhabitants attacked the padre and four soldiers of the 
Mission San Jose escolta while this group went on a proselytizing expedition. They killed one 
soldier, whom they scalped and mutilated, and wounded the padre and another soldier. It 
took the group until nightfall to escape from the natives. The two unwounded soldiers 
galloped off to raise the alarm. Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga led the punitive expedition. 22 A 
shortage of soldiers caused the need of a few civilians as temporary reinforcements for the 
military forces. 

A brief but successful campaign followed. After a skirmish, all of the members of the 
offending Indian village became prisoners. Once more, the women and children went to the 
mission, and the men became forced laborers at the Presidio. 23 

Still more Indians involuntarily joined the work force at the Presidio after a monthlong foray 
led by Luis Arguello returned from the hills between the two missions of San Jose and Santa 
Clara. The troops captured 13 escaped neophytes and brought back the people to their 
mission, while they pressed into service nine other unconverted local tribesmen implicated 
in the killing of a Christian Indian at the Presidio. 24 

As soon as temporary quiet came to the district, Lieutenant Arguello turned his forces against 
other prey. His troops stalked various and sundry bears, wolves, and mountain lions that 
attacked the cattle herds at the royal ranch. Those cattle not killed and eaten by the wild 



21. Luis Peralta [to Jose Arguello?], Santa Clara, February 20, 1805 and Luis Arguello to Jose Arguello, San 
Francisco, February 20, 1805, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XII, 29-30. 

22. Gabriel Moraga was only about 10 when this native of Santa Rosa de la Fronteras went with his father, Josef 
(also known as Jose) Joaquin Moraga, and mother, Maria del Pilar de Leon, to start a new life in California as part 
of Anza's Second Expedition. He joined the San Francisco Company as a private, in 1783, when his father still 
commanded there. The following year he married Ana Maria Bernal at Mission Dolores. She was born in Sinaloa 
and was about 14 years old at the time. The couple had nine children before Senora Moraga died in 1802. Gabriel 
remarried in 1806, taking Maria Joaquina Alvarado as his second wife. They had five children. 

During his military career he rose through the ranks to sergeant and by 1806 obtained his commission as an alferez. 
He would become a brevet lieutenant in 1811 and a lieutenant some six years later. By 1820, he boasted a 37-year 
record as a soldier and had served in 46 expeditions against Indians in the San Francisco, Monterey, and Santa 
Barbara presidial districts where he served. Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families, 209-210. 

He would lead or be included in several other expeditions during the next several years in search of potential new 
mission sites, converts, and a land route, albeit never realized, between California and Santa Fe. These forays 
increased Spain's knowledge of the San Joaquin Valley and other portions of northern California. For a good 
example of these expeditions and Moraga's role see "Diario de la Tercera Expedicion por el Alferez Don Gabriel 
Moraga, Orn. superior del Sor. Gob.or de la Provincia Don Josef Joaquin de Arrillaga a los Rios del Norte; 
verificada en el mes de Septiembre del ano de 1808," (MS, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 
Calif.). 

23. Amador, "Memorias," 13-15. 

24. Jose Arguello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, June 25, 1805, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XII, 32. 

77 



animals were dispersed by them over a rough terrain that made it difficult for the soldier- 
herders to round them up again. 25 

In mid-year the viceroy authorized the strength of the Company of the Presidio of San 
Francisco to be doubled. Lieutenant Argiiello commented that he did not know where he 
would find recruits to fill the vacancies, but in case he did locate willing prospects it would 
be well to have noncommissioned officers all ready to train the men. Nepotism being 
common, Argiiello suggested his son, Corporal distinguido Gervasio Argiiello, for the job. For 
once Jose Argiiello's political machinations to set his sons up with the good beginning to a 
military career did not work. The next year, when the ranks were filled, Governor Arrillaga 
sent to his superiors a list of officers at San Francisco. It included the following names: 
Lieutenant Jose Argiiello, Ensign Luis Argiiello, Cadet Santiago Argiiello, and Corporal 
Gervasio Argiiello. 26 Somehow or other an outsider named Jose Sanchez became the 



25. Ibid., July 29, 1805, XII, 32. 

26. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 29, 1805, XII, 30-31 and Governor Arrillaga's Report, 
Monterey, April 12, 1806, ibid., Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, XVI, 240. It should be noted that a cadet 
received his appointment from the viceroy and did duty with the enlisted men, although he lived with the officers. 
This meant that he required an outside income of some sort until he eventually received his appointment to alferez. 
Bancroft, California Pastoral, 295. 

Argiiello's oldest son, Josef Joaquin Maximo, became a priest, and the next oldest son, Luis Antonio, was born on 
July 21, 1784, at the Presidio of San Francisco and baptized at Mission Dolores the next day with his uncle and 
aunt, Lieutenant and Senora Moraga, as his godparents. By October 21, 1799, he entered the San Francisco 
Company as a cadet. When Manuel Rodriguez received a promotion to lieutenant, Luis filled the opening for 
ensign at San Francisco, the promotion being granted on December 22, 1800. He competed for the vacancy of alferez 
with two other candidates, Ignacio Martinez de la Vega, a cadet with 16 months' service at Santa Barbara, and Jose 
Estudillo, a cadet stationed at Loreto for some 40 months. The governor recommended Argiiello for his ability, 
the fact that he came from San Francisco, and because Luis's father commanded there. The viceroy also provided 
his support with the observation, "young Argiiello had the possibilities of becoming a fine officer," because he 
displayed "more aptitude, better attitude" and was the son of a commander. He also could help his father who 
had 28 years' "good military service, with ten children and supporting them on only 550 pesos annually." Mission 
Dolores, Book of Baptisms, I (Year 1784), folio 55v, document no. 389, item 3; Viceroy to Jose Dario Argiiello, no. 
173, Mexico City, December 27, 1800, Archivo General Militar de Segovia (AGMS), Section I, Expediente 2235; 
Governor Arrillaga to Senor [King Carlos IV], Loreto, December 13, 1800 and Viceroy Marquina to Senor, Mexico, 
No. 173, December 27, 1800, ibid., Section, Expediente 2235, and Viceroy Marquina to Antonio Cornel, Mexico, 
December 27, 1800, ibid. 

Another son, Jose Gervasio, born July 1786, married Encarnacion Dolores Bernal on May 31, 1803, at Mission 
Dolores. Three years earlier he had joined his father's command as a soldado distinguido, then remained a cadet 
from 1807 through 1817, serving for eight of those years as the San Francisco Company's habilitado. He would leave 
California to became the habilitado general in Mexico where he remained for the rest of his life. 

Finally, Santiago Argiiello was born on July 25, 1792. In 1805, while barely in his teens, he became a cadet at San 
Francisco but the following year he transferred to Santa Barbara. There, on May 30, 1810, he married Maria del 
Pilar Salvadora Ortega. The couple had 15 children. In 1817, he returned to San Francisco as an alferez, a post he 
held for a decade. Then, in 1827 he transferred to San Diego as a lieutenant and by the next year became 
commandant there. In 1831, he rose to captain. He retired from the military in 1836, although he continued in a 
number of influential civilian positions until his death in 1862 as the grantee of Rancho Tia Juana. Northrop, 
Spanish-Mexican Families, 41-45 and Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 702. 

78 



associate sergeant to Peralta. 27 It must have been a blow to the father's prestige in the 
Argiiello home. 

Nonetheless, the family prospered. In August 1806, Don Jose, now a brevet captain, 
transferred to Santa Barbara, leaving behind his three sons, with Luis as the new presidial 
district commander in San Francisco and Gervasio taking over as habilitado. 28 

On March 10, 1806, Luis Argiiello not only assumed control of the Presidio of San Francisco 
but also received his promotion to lieutenant with its accompanying extra pay, which came 
just in time. By October 8, 1806, he and Rafaela Sal, orphaned daughter of the late 
commander of the Presidio, Lieutenant Hermenegildo Sal, had exchanged their wedding vows 
at Mission Santa Clara. 29 Nearly a year after, the viceroy forwarded the royal order that gave 
permission to Don Luis to marry. The document also stated that Dona Rafaela was not 
entitled to be a beneficiary of the Montepio Militar unless her husband should be killed in 
action. 30 This widows' and orphans' fund generally remained limited to the families of 



27. There was good reason for Jose Antonio Sanchez to obtain this promotion based on his record. A native of 
Sinaloa, he joined the San Francisco Company as a private in 1791, and rose to corporal 14 years later, taking 
charge of Mission Santa Cruz's escolta for a short time thereafter. From 1806 to 1820 he served as a sergeant until 
a brevet ensign's rank was bestowed on him. Several years passed before he became an alferez, however. He 
remained in uniform after Mexico assumed control, retiring from duty in 1836, possibly to his grant, Buriburi, the 
former rancho del rey. A veteran of some 20 forays against Indians, Sanchez was pronounced "a good man, of 
known honesty and valor" by Bancroft, although the same source contended he was "very ignorant and unfit for 
promotion." Sanchez died in 1843, "being denied the comforts of religion on his deathbed, and for a time Christian 
burial, through some quarrel with the friars, to whom he was always hostile." Bancroft, History of California, vol. 
V, 710 n. 

28. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 125. For a few years, Luis functioned as acting commander since 
nominally Captain Manuel Rodriguez was assigned as commandant, but never appeared in the Bay Area because 
he remained on duty in Mexico. 

29. Rafaela Sal y Amesquita was born in Monterey on August 29, 1784 and baptized at the Mission San Carlos 
on August 30. When her father died, she came to live with her godmother, Maria Ignacia de Moraga Argiiello, 
and Don Jose became her official guardian at San Francisco. By 1805, Luis and Rafaela sought permission to marry 
with the approval of his parents, which they gave to both of the young people. The viceroy likewise assented. 
Certification of Guardianship of Rafaela Sal signed Jose Darfo Argiiello, San Francisco, 1805, AGMS, Expediente 
2235; Luis Antonio Argiiello to Senor (the King), San Francisco, October 30, 1805, ibid.; Certification No. 4 and 
Certification No. 5, signed by Jose Dario Argiiello and Maria Ignacia de Moraga, San Francisco, October 30 and 
October 31, 1805, ibid.; Viceroy Iturrigaray to dean of the Supreme Council of War in Madrid, Mexico City, May 
27, 1806, ibid., and Oficio from Jose Caballero to Viceroy Iturrigaray, San Lorenzo (del Escorial), November 21, 
1806, ibid. The last named document was the official authorization for the marriage to take place. 

His first wife died just over a half-dozen years later. Don Luis would not remarry until August 30, 1822, when 
he took the hand of Maria de la Soledad Ortega, born on April 13, 1797. The family increased by another eight 
children during this second marriage. In October 1818, Argiiello received further recognition with a promotion 
to captain. Four years later, he became acting governor of Mexican California but retained command of the San 
Francisco district, a post he held until 1828. He died on March 27, 1830. Northrop, Spanish-Mexican Families, 42-43; 
Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 9-13. 

30. Viceroy Jose de Iturrigaray to Governor Jose Arrillaga, Mexico, May 21, 1807, Archives of California, Provincial 
State Papers, XII, 196-97. 

79 



officers of the rank of captain higher. 31 The government usually discouraged ensigns and 
lieutenants from marrying unless they had an outside income to augment their low pay. 
Rather than wait for approval under the circumstances, many junior officers married secretly. 
Arguello's connections helped remove this obstacle for the young couple who soon presented 
Don Jose with two new grandchildren. 

Although the Argiiellos became a California dynasty, not everyone enjoyed the same success. 
Few others found similar advancements, many individuals continuing a marginal existence 
at the bottom of a stratified society, albeit one that may have been less rigid and separated 
by material wealth than was evident in Mexico and Spain during the same era. 32 
Nevertheless, the gente de razon of the district increased in numbers as the original Native 
American population gradually decreased, although they continued to outnumber the 
Hispanic sector an estimated six to one. By the beginning of the 19th century, the former 
group had evolved into a homogeneous enclave that gradually achieved a certain degree of 
independence from Madrid, Mexico City, and even Monterey, largely because of isolation and 
distance from higher authorities. The very circumstances that created this semi-independent 
environment worked to the advantage of outsiders who would intrude into this tiny world. 

Ripples in the small calm pool began even as Don Luis started up the ladder of command 
and began his married life. He and his family soon played host to a Russian visit to San 
Francisco. During the winter of 1805-1806, members of the Russian settlement at Sitka 
suffered near-starvation and scurvy. The imperial inspector visiting the colony at the time, 
Chamberlain Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov, resolved to sail to California to get food for his men. 

The Russian Juno arrived at San Francisco on March 28, 1806, with a load of merchandise to 
be used in trade for food supplies for its scurvy-ridden crew and the colonies to the north. 
As the vessel sailed by the Castillo de San Joaquin, a Spanish soldier shouted orders through 
a speaking trumpet to halt at the Presidio anchorage. With this Juno sailed on through the 
harbor's mouth and dropped anchor. 33 



31. The government withheld a small part of the pay of officers and enlisted men alike for various purposes. 
Soldiers had 50 pesos accumulated against the day they retired as a sort of muster-out pay known as the Fondo de 
Retention. Another small sum of the soldier's salary went into the Fondo de Invdlidos, used to pay pensions with 
officers drawing upon a similar fund called the Fondo de Montepio. Finally, the crown placed ten pesos annually 
for each man into the Fondo de Gratification, to be used to cover miscellaneous company expenses. Bancroft, History 
of California, vol. I, 635-36. 

32. John Phillip Langellier and Katherine Myers Peterson, "Lances and Leather Jackets: Presidial Forces in Spanish 
California, 1769-1821," XX Journal of the West no. 4: 9, concluded, 'The real key to social status ... in the Spanish 
frontier society seemed to be land acquisition" insofar as California was concerned, not ethnicity. 

33. Bancroft, History of California, II, 64-68. 

80 



Then, they lowered a boat and came ashore where Alferez Luis Arguello, Padre Jose de Uria, 
and 15 soldiers rode out to meet the delegation from the ship. 34 G. H. von Langsdorff, doctor 
and naturalist on Juno, disembarked. He observed that among the group: 

A well looking man, who was not otherwise distinguished from the rest but by a 
very singular dress, was presented to us as the commandant of the place. He had 
over his uniform a sort of mantle of stripped woolen cloth, which looked very much 
like the coverlet of a bed, his head coming through an opening in the middle, so it 
hung down over the breast, back, and shoulders. He, as well as the rest of the 
military officers, wore boots embroidered after a particular fashion, and 
extravagantly large spurs; most of them also had large cloaks. 35 

None of the Russians understood any Spanish and none of the Spaniards knew any of the 
language of their visitors. They solved the problem of communication when the naturalist and 
missionary conversed in Latin, then still a sort of lingua franca to the liberally educated of the 
period. The Spanish home government had warned the Californians that they might expect 
a visit from Russians, and that the visitors should be welcomed. Accordingly, young Arguello 
invited the Russian officers to his quarters for a reception and dinner. The distance from the 
landing being close, the Russian envoys elected to walk with their host to the quadrangle. 

The post did not impress Langsdorff. He described the place as having "the appearance of a 
German Metairie [farmstead]," and an illustration he made of the place reflected this remark. 
(See figure 16.) Most of the families lived in small, low, one-room houses. He considered 
Argiiello's house as being small and mean with the parlor, where the commander received 
them, a scantily-furnished room with whitewashed walls and straw matting on portions of 
the floor. Much to Langsdorff's surprise, however, when the meal came he commented on the 
beautiful silver service in stark contrast to the humble surroundings. He concluded: 

This costly American metal is indeed found in the most remote Spanish possessions. 
Friendship and harmony reigned in the whole behaviour of these worthy kind- 
hearted people; indeed, in such a spot, they have scarcely any pleasures or 
amusements but what proceed from family union and domestic cordiality. 

The simple artless attachment which every part of this amiable family seemed to feel 
for the other, interested us so much, that soon we wished for a farther acquaintance 
with them, and were very desirous of learning the name of each individual. Madame 
Arguello had had fifteen children, of whom thirteen were at this time living; some 
of the sons were absent upon military services, others were at home. Of the grown 
up unmarried daughters, Donna Conception interested us more particularly. She was 
lively and animated, had sparkling love-inspiring eyes, beautiful teeth, pleasing and 



34. Padre Uria was born in 1769 at Azcoita in Spain and joined the Franciscans 20 years later. By 1796, he sailed 
from Cadiz to Mexico, where he remained for approximately three years before being assigned to Mission San Jose. 
He served at the latter post from August 1799 through 1806. The priest then transferred to Mission San Fernando 
amd after two years there went to San Juan Capistrano. From there, health problems brought about permission 
for his return to Mexico in late 1812. He died in 1815. Geiger, Franciscan Missionaries, 259. 

35. Richard A. Pierce, ed., Rezdnov Reconnoiters California, 1806: A new translation of Rezdnov's letter, parts of 
Lieutenant Khvostov's log of the ship Juno, and Dr. Georg von Langsdorff observations (San Francisco, Calif.: The Book 
Club of California, 1972), 56-57. All other information about Juno's visit was taken from this source. 

81 



expressive features, a fine form, and a thousand other charms, yet her manners were 
perfectly simple and artless. 36 

The head of the Russian party, Rezanov, shared Langsdorff's attraction for Concepcion. His 
interest stemmed not only from the lonely time spent during the Alaskan winter but also 
from the knowledge that a relationship with this young woman offered political advantages 
as much as romantic possibilities. 

Perhaps that thought took hold once Alferez Argiiello informed Rezanov that he was 
forbidden to trade with the Russians. However, he had notified the governor, and 
arrangements might be worked out to provide needed supplies. In the meantime, the Presidio 
presented the ill crew of Juno with cattle, sheep, onions, garlic, cabbages, and several other 
sorts of vegetables and bread to combat the effects of poor nutrition. The fresh food restored 
them to good health and gave an indication of the potential bounty of the area for agriculture. 

In the meantime, the Argiiellos continued entertaining the Russian officers while waiting for 
orders from Governor Arrillaga respecting the trade proposals. After 10 days passed, the 
governor himself made his way to San Francisco with an entourage that included Lieutenant 
Jose Argiiello. When Arrillaga arrived, a salute from the guns of the fort and the battery 
greeted him, the booms from the cannon hidden further within the harbor surprising the 
Russians since the Yerba Buena battery could not be seen from the anchorage. Later, the 
Russians managed to have a closer look at this emplacement. Rezanov concluded afterwards: 

Weak as the Spanish defenses are, they have nevertheless increased their artillery 
since Vancouver's visit. We later secretly inspected the battery [Yerba Buena]. It has 
five brass cannons of twelve pound caliber. I heard that there are several guns in the 
fortress [the Castillo]. As I have never been there and in order to disarm suspicion did 
not allow others to go either, I do not know if there are more or less guns there. 37 

Further surveys indicated that the north shore offered some excellent positions for forts that 
could control the bay without any danger of retaliation from the Spanish battery as the 
proposed sites for Russian defenses rose higher than those of the Spanish on the south side 
of the harbor and also were out of range. The Russians could not help but notice that a ship 
could slip pass the Castillo's guns by hugging the out-of-range Marin shore as it entered port. 

For the moment though, talks over other matters took precedence over martial affairs. Most 
notably, Governor Arrillaga admitted that the mutual trade arrangements would benefit both 
the Spanish and Russian colonies, but he said the viceroy strictly forbade such commerce with 
foreigners. The Russians attempted to win favor through the giving of presents such as cloth 
and a fowling piece to the locals. 



36. Pierce, Rezanov, 58-59. 

37. Pierce, Rezanov, 7. 



82 






: W* ~n ' 




J| | 





• : : — 



Figure 16. The first known work of art to provide an elevation of the Presidio of San 
Francisco appeared in 1806, based upon the earliest Russian visits to the port. Credited to 
Georg von Langsdorff, it depicted a group of structures huddled together in an irregular 
fashion (not unlike a German "farmstead") with no visible outer protective walls on the east 
and north sides. As indicated by this piece of art, little major vegetation grew on the 
surrounding hills. A low sandy dune below an abrupt rise that formed the plain on which 
the outpost stood also was evident. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. 



83 



Rezanov finally used a more subtle approach to make his point. The language barriers proved 
to be not much of an obstacle, for in a short time the Russian commander evidently managed 
to woo and win Conception Argiiello. The senior Argiiellos reacted with something less than 
pleasure over this state of affairs, but their daughter persuaded them to give approval to a 
marriage. The local missionaries refused to perform a wedding for a non-Catholic until Rome 
authorized the union. Regardless, the parties agreed to the drawing up of a marriage contract. 
From that time Rezanov practically became part of the large Argiiello clan. With the Argiiellos 
won over to the arguments of the Russians, Arrillaga soon gave in to persuasion. Although 
one of the principal tenets of the merchantilist system that sustained the crown's monopoly 
over its colonies would be violated, Arrillaga agreed to permit trading with the Russians. 38 

While trade negotiations inched forward and foodstuffs (including wheat, barley, beans, peas, 
flour, and lard) came aboard Juno, the naturalist made various observations about the Presidio 
of San Francisco and its environs. He observed that the countryside appeared rather naked 
with the exception of a few low shrubs that afforded little variety. He saw rabbits, hares, 
eagles, cranes, curlews, ducks (especially the Anas perspicillata and the Anas nigra), pelicans, 
guillemots, and several sorts of fowl unknown to him. Seals of several types and sea otters 
swam in numbers. The latter creatures seemed of great potential for their fur and as another 
item of trade, to Langsdorff 's way of thinking. Deer grazed across the bay to the north while 
bears, which once abounded, had been reduced in numbers as one of the first local species 
to suffer at the hands of excessive hunting. One of the reasons for this decline grew out of 
a common practice to capture these animals alive and bring them back for combat with bulls. 

The crew of Juno, on the promise of a bull and bear fight, waited to see this spectacle 
firsthand but the bear that had been caught for the duel died the night before the intended 
performance. To keep the Russians from being too disappointed. Jose Argiiello ordered an 
afternoon of bullfights. The soldiers used their lances, both on foot and on horseback. 
Langsdorff did not think much of the technique of the local performers. 

For other diversions, Langsdorff and his comrades attended daily entertainment at the 
Presidio. Almost every afternoon one or the other side held a party. The visitors made a big 
success with the ladies when they introduced some of the newer dance steps from Europe to 
San Francisco society. In turn, the Russians learned some of the favorites of the locals. One 
dance, the barrego, required two couples, who stood facing each other. Humming a tune and 
stamping the measure with their feet they formed a half-chain figure, "then balancear opposite 
to each other to a slow time, and then recommence the dance." Soldiers of the garrison who 
could play the violin and guitar provided music at these fandangos. 

When not attending these gatherings, Langsdorff took interest in other aspects of local daily 
life. He commented on the cueras worn by the Spaniards as a defense against Indian arrows. 
The physician noted that these deerskin outer garments remained part of the dress uniform 
for parades and other special ceremonies. He also learned from Governor Arrillaga that the 
increase in cattle in the San Francisco district had been so great in recent years that they had 



38. All goods coming into the colonies supposedly went through the government's customhouse. Failure to follow 
this prescription would lead to confiscation of the goods and other sanctions. Tobacco particularly required high 
duties, and the crown kept a tight control on this item. 

84 



become a liability instead of an asset. The governor had to send a party of soldiers to kill 
thousands of cattle, so that there would be enough pasture for the rest. 39 

Military activities had to continue in spite of the distracting presence of visitors in the port. 
While Langsdorff visited Mission San Jose, a party of 14 soldiers led by a sergeant returned 
from exploring the interior of the country. The soldiers went as far as the Sierra Nevada. At 
this same time another party readied itself at San Francisco to go on another inland 
expedition. Newly-promoted Lieutenant Luis Arguello led the force, which included the 
company ensign, Gabriel Moraga, recently promoted and transferred from the Monterey 
company, Cadet Santiago Arguello, Father Jose Una, and 21 soldiers. 

As the lancers went about their duties, Juno's crew filled the ship's hold with provisions. They 
made ready to sail in the third week of May, leaving 11,174 rubles' (an estimated $24,000) 
worth of goods in exchange for 2,000 bushels of grain, five tons of flour, and other edibles. 40 
As the Russian ship sailed out of San Francisco Bay, she exchanged cannon salutes with the 
Spaniards at the entrance to the harbor. The Russians' last glimpse of the Spanish settlement 
was the large group on the high white cliff — Governor Arrillaga, the whole Arguello family, 
and many others, all waving goodbye with hats and handkerchiefs. 41 

After dealing with the Russians, Governor Arrillaga made an inspection tour of the port at 
San Francisco. He reported to the viceroy relatively fair condition of the Presidio's buildings 
in general, but concluded that considerable repairs remained to be made. The guardhouse, 
missing a large piece of its roof, could no longer be used to confine prisoners. More 
importantly, only three of the cannon mounted at the Castillo de San Joaquin and the Bateria 
de Yerba Buena functioned. 42 

Likewise, a half year after the San Francisco commandant and his bride moved into their 
home at the Presidio, they experienced housekeeping problems. On July 17, 1808, Arguello 
wrote to Governor Arrillaga about the 18 earthquakes that had occurred in the Bay Area since 
June 21 of the same summer. Some of the shocks cracked all the walls of the Argiiellos' home 
and completely destroyed one room of the building. He noted considerable other damage, 



39. Georg von Langsdorff, Bemerkungen auf einer Reise urn die Welt, (London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley, 
1813-1814), vol. II, 158 and 170. 

40. Diane Spencer Pritchard, "Joint Tenants of the Frontier: Russian-Hispanic Relationship in Alta California" in 
Barbara Sweetland Smith and Redmond J. Barnett, eds. Russian America: The Forgotten Frontier (Tacoma, Wash.: 
Washington State Historical Society, 1990), 83. 

41. Bancroft, History of California, Vol. II, 72-78 and Zephyrin Englehard, San Francisco or Mission Dolores (Chicago, 
IL: Franciscan Herald Press, 1924), 401-405 provide accounts of what became of one of California's most famous 
romances. In brief, after Juno sailed, Rezanov returned to his native land. While traveling to make his report to 
superiors and set things in motion to realize his plans for California, his horse threw him and he died. In turn, 
Concepcion never married, living the life of a devout lay person who performed works of charity throughout the 
community. Hector Chevigy's Lost Empire: The Life and Adventures of Nikolai Rezanov (Portland, OR: Binford & Mort 
Publishers, 1979) delves into this subject at some length but is more a historical novel than a scholarly history. It 
should be noted that the central figures of the story have become part of popular culture in the Soviet Union with 
Nikolai and Concita (as Concepcion is known there) even being the subject of a rock opera! 

42. Tays, "Castillo," 27. 

85 



especially at the barracks at Fort San Joaquin where the tremors had rendered the place 
unsafe to keep men in the building. 43 

New problems arose during the year 1809, chiefly from unwelcome guests. The Russian- 
American Company began fur-collecting activities from an initial base at Bodega Bay early 
in the year. Local soldiers arrested Alaskan Indians caught chasing sea otters and fur seals 
in the bay. Likewise, deserters from the Russian base appeared in the presidial district. The 
Spanish promptly took them into custody. 

Some of the deserters turned out to be "Yankees" from the crew of the Juno who had visited 
San Francisco three years before. These men had tried to slip away in 1806, but Rezanov had 
made certain that he would have a sufficient crew by the simple step of storing all the 
potential deserters on Alcatraz Island until he was ready to leave the harbor. At the Presidio 
the men, successful in their second desertion attempt, underwent questioning, imprisonment, 
and eventually transfer to Monterey. The Spanish also sent some of the Indian prisoners to 
Monterey, but most ended up in their usual capacity as workers at the Presidio. 44 All 
through the remainder of the period of Spanish control at San Francisco, occasional Russian 
sailors and Alaskan Indians would desert or be captured by the soldiers of the garrison. 
Usually the prisoners would be confined and put to work at San Francisco until orders from 
the governor provided for their disposition. Most eventually were sent to Monterey. 

During the French invasion of Spain, the soldiers in California, like Spanish Americans 
generally, remained loyal to the imprisoned Spanish royal family. To assure continued 
support, however, the authorities required the men to take an oath of allegiance to Ferdinand 
VII. Consequently, on March 5, 1809, the soldiers of the San Francisco Company drew up in 
their best uniforms under arms. Lieutenant Argiiello read the general order and called out 
three times "Viva el Rey Nuestro y Senor Natural Don Fernando" and "Castilla por el Senor don 
Fernando VII." Each time the soldiers replied with "Long live our king and natural Lord 
Ferdinand VII." Church services and the firing of salutes added to the ritual. 45 

With the mother country under Napoleon, political unrest heightened in Central and South 
America. The effects made their way to San Francisco. In 1810, insurgents on the high seas 
captured supplies and equipment destined for California. From this date until the end of the 
Spanish period in California the soldiers never again saw their pay. The semiannual supply 
ships rarely made the trip to California, dictating that the presidios had to rely on foodstuffs 
from the missions. The governor gave drafts on the royal treasury in exchange for the food, 
but never repaid the debts. These circumstances also forced Governor Arrillaga to ignore his 
orders to forbid foreign trade in order to supply the province with necessities. 46 San 
Francisco suffered not only from a shortage of supplies in 1810, but also from a scarcity of 



43. Luis Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 17, 1808, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XII, 235-36. 

44. Luis Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, February 16, 1809 and Jose Arrillaga to Jose Maria 
Estudillo, San Antonio, October 5, 1809, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XII, 249, 266-68. 

45. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 88. 

46. Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco, vol. I, 226-27. 

86 



workmen. 47 The winter rains took their usual toll of the buildings of the garrison. Several 
houses, a storehouse, barracks, and the chapel at the Presidio suffered. Once more, the 
merlons and esplanade at Fort San Joaquin crumbled. The guardroom's damage rendered it 
dangerous to keep troops in it. The rule roof of a clothing warehouse fell apart and made it 
easy for three neophyte thieves to get into the building. Arguello asked for masons, 
carpenters, and blacksmiths to make repairs. 48 Official silence was the only reply. 

Not many of the San Francisco soldiers were available for renovation or construction work 
during this last year of the decade. In May, Moraga took to the field in pursuit of Indians in 
the area of Suisun. The 18-man detail fought in two skirmishes with several of the soldiers 
being wounded. Despite casualties, the men's success on campaigns caused the regency acting 
for the imprisoned Spanish king to make Moraga a brevet lieutenant, promoted two wounded 
corporals to sergeant, and promised the wounded privates pay bonuses. All of the Spanish 
soldiers received the formal thanks of the nation. In August and mid-October, Ensign Moraga 
led soldiers and armed neophytes on two expeditions to the San Joaquin Valley to find some 
promising mission sites and to recapture some escaped Indians whom they sent to missions 
under guard. 49 

One of those troops engaged in these actions, Corporal Francisco Soto, had recovered from 
his wounds by September. 50 At that time he and two soldiers caught three Russian-directed 
Indian fur hunters near Mission San Jose. Local Indians indicated many fishing canoes in San 
Francisco Bay; the occupants were going after sea otters. Reports of a large ship in Bodega 
Bay likewise reached San Francisco. 51 The governor in Monterey instructed Moraga to 
investigate the matter. He led a small group of soldiers to Bodega Bay and discovered an 
Indian rancheria and a small American ship in the harbor with several small boats used in 
otter hunting. He also saw a few Alaskan Indians in the area. After 10 days the detachment 
returned to San Francisco. 52 Thereafter, they would encounter an ever-increasing number of 
foreigners in and around San Francisco during the remainder of Spanish rule. 



47. In the 1790s, efforts were made to become self-supporting in terms of developing skills in various crafts. This 
initiative came to little good, with a few exceptions, such as Jose Antonio Romero, a potter and soldier at San 
Francisco who went to Mission Dolores to instruct the neophytes in that art. Another soldier, by the name of 
Casero, was sent to help the missionaries at Santa Clara and Santa Cruz in setting up portable manufacturing 
elements to make earthenware. Sutil y Mexican, General California Military, 1790s, Bancroft Reference Notes; Jose 
Arguello to Governor Borica, August 30, 1796 and November 28, 1796, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, VIII, 22 and 119. 

48. Luis Arguello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, March 30, 1810, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, XII, 281-82. 

49. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 56-57; 91. 

50. The first Hispanic child born at San Francisco, Francisco Josef de los Dolores Soto was the son of one of the 
garrison's original soldiers, Ygnacio Soto, and Maria Barbara Espinosa, both of whom came with the second Anza 
expedition. Soto's father retired in 1785 and moved to San Jose. The son entered the military ranks at a young age 
and by 1810 had become a corporal. Prior to this, on August 13, 1795, he married Ana Maria Higuera at Mission 
Santa Clara. Soto died in July 1836, and was buried at Mission Dolores, the site of his baptism. Northrop, Spanish- 
Mexican Families, 304 and Bancroft, History of California, vol. V, 728. 

51. Luis Arguello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, September 19 and September 20, 1810, Archives of 
California, Provincial State Papers, XII, 275-76. 

52. Gabriel Moraga's Diary of his Expedition to the Port of Bodega, San Francisco, October 3, 1810, ibid., 
Provincial State Papers, XII, 276-79. 

87 



Indeed, the last years before Mexico took control of California were ones of only nominal 
Spanish direction. The Spanish government provided a few reinforcements during the decade, 
but provided none of the equivalent of 89,000 pesos annual allowance due to the four presidial 
companies in the province. 53 Spain, too busy elsewhere with Central and South American 
revolts and problems in Europe, paid little attention to her California subjects. 

Although the Spanish home government ignored the possibilities of developing the San 
Francisco Bay Area during this decade, the Russians continued as enterprising exploiters. All 
during the early part of the year 1811 many Russian-directed Indians appeared around the 
bay. Mission Indians sent out to report on the interlopers' activities spied 130 canoes in the 
vicinity of the harbor's entrance, all hunting fur seals. The Russian supply ships for the fur- 
collecting expedition anchored in Bodega Bay. Some time during July the intruders left the 
area and were not seen again until the following year. 54 

In mid-1812, the canoes of Indian fur hunters returned. The Spaniards discovered intruders 
near San Mateo and received reports of others in San Pablo Bay as far as Carquinez. Teniente 
Luis Argiiello could not discern whether the base ship at Bodega Bay flew a Russian or 
American ensign. With instructions from the governor to investigate the matter, Argiiello sent 
Gabriel Moraga with four men to ascertain the truth. Lieutenant Moraga took only a week 
to make his reconnaissance. The ship, a Russian brigantine, rode at anchor about 8 leagues 
north of Bodega. It carried 80 men from Unalaska and Kamchatka to the California site, where 
Russians already had begun the construction of a small fort (destined to become Fort Ross), 
some 150 yards square with cannon mounted behind the walls. In spite of the armament, 
Moraga noted the Russians treated the Spanish soldiers in a friendly manner. 55 

Late in the year some men appeared on the shore of the harbor opposite the Castillo de San 
Joaquin. The sergeant at the fort tried unsuccessfully to hail them through his speaking tube 
when the unidentified group waved a small flag. Argiiello then sent over a small boat to 
investigate the unusual activity. The crew discovered three Russians in a most miserable 
condition. They came from Fort Ross, deserters who had fled the near-starvation situation 
prevalent at that settlement. 56 

While the Spaniards turned their principal attentions toward Russian activities during the 
year, they could not ignore the unrest of certain Indian groups living within the San Francisco 
area. Some time during the year Sergeant Francisco Soto, with 12 men from the Presidio and 
100 Indian neophytes, marched from San Jose to the San Joaquin River to punish what his 
superiors considered to be troublemakers. On one of the delta islands the soldiers and their 
native allies fought against a force of supposedly a thousand Indians. Since the Spanish 
proved victorious and the enemy fled, it seems unlikely that they faced anywhere near that 



53. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 422. 



54. Luis Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, May 30 and July 30, 181 1, Archives of California, Provincial 
State Papers, XII, 306-308. 

55. Luis Argiiello to Jose Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 31 and September 7, 1812, ibid., XII, 320-25. 

56. Luis Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, December 16, 1812, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, Benicia Military, XVI, 73-74. 

88 



number. 57 Indeed, had the various tribes of original Indian inhabitants of the Bay Area ever 
banded together in such strength, they could have swept most of the Hispanic population 
aside. 58 

Between campaigns, the men of the garrison at San Francisco no doubt kept busy on the 
never ceasing repair work. Besides the usual and by now expected damage from wind and 
rain, the Presidio of San Francisco recovered from another earthquake in early December 
1812. 59 

Existing records from the year 1813 disclosed only two items of a significant nature. 
Lieutenant Moraga again made his way to Fort Ross. He even drove 20 cattle and three 
horses with him to turn over to the Russians. 60 The Russians desired to open up trade for 
foodstuffs based upon the lack of provisions for that outpost, an exchange that the Spanish 
governors eventually permitted to a fair extent when the memorias dwindled or no longer 
arrived from Mexico, a fate that, as noted, became the norm after 1810. 

While attempting to reach some sort of understanding with the Russians, the Spanish still 
persisted in battling various Native American groups. Late in 1813, Sergeant Soto sallied forth 
with a dozen soldiers and a hundred Indian auxiliaries in the vicinity of Mission San Jose. 
This time Soto's objective was to round up escaping neophytes and their non-Christian 
friends. 61 

During 1814, two British ships visited the port of San Francisco. One was the armed 
merchantman Isaac Todd; the other was the man-of-war Raccoon. The Spanish returned eight 
deserters from Todd at Monterey when the ship arrived in San Francisco. Later, the captain 
of the 28-gun Raccoon requested and received permission to repair his vessel at San Francisco, 
the ship having been damaged during the War of 1812 in an attack and capture of the 
American trading post at Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. Eventually, the ship 
would be repaired in Marin County on the beach across from Angel Island, thereby giving 
its name to the body of water now known as Raccoon Straits. The 130 crewmen of the British 
naval vessel spent a month in the Bay Area. After buying provisions and a thousand pounds 
of gunpowder, Raccoon set sail for the Sandwich Islands on its mission to destroy American 



57. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 324-25. 

58. A comparison of the estimated number of Indians of both sexes with the estimated number of "Espanoles y 
otras castas" of both sexes of this period indicates that in the San Francisco district there were 4,111 Indios at the 
missions to the 388 gente de razon (including eight padres). This figure did not seem to indicate the numbers of 
those individuals and groups of Native Americans who remained outside of the Spanish sphere of control. The 
same report offered another telling statistic in that during 1813 there had been an increase of 51 Spaniards to a 
decrease of 81 Indians. Luis Argiiello's Report of San Francisco District's Population, San Francisco, December 31, 
1813, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 200. 

59. John B. Trask, A Register of Earthquakes in California, from 1800 to 1863 (San Francisco, Calif.: Towne & Bacon, 
1864), 5. 

60. Pritchard, "Joint Tenants": 85, notes that Moraga went back to Ross on January 27, 1813. Russian sources 
mention the livestock he brought with him. 

61. Luis Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 31 and October 31, 1813, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, XII, 342-48. 

89 



shipping. 62 The fact that the Spanish had a surplus of powder and felt secure enough to 
make it available to the British indicated a certain degree of self-assurance about local military 
might. 

That attitude would soon change, perhaps in part because of Lieutenant Moraga'a 
observations. Moraga, by now almost a regular visitor to Fort Ross, again went to the Russian 
post in 1814. This time he took with him Cadet Gervasio Argiiello, the San Francisco 
habilitado. At the conclusion of this tour Moraga prepared a short report describing the 
Russian fort. Forty gente de razon and many Kodiak Indians lived there. A number of cannon 
guarded the place. The house built for the commandant and his pilot boasted a most 
remarkable luxury for the remote area ~ it had glass windows! 63 

On this journey to Fort Ross Moraga carried official requests, orders, and threats warning the 
Russians to withdraw from Spanish territory. At the same time, however, Moraga and the 
Russian commander made additional arrangements for what became an illegal, yet thriving, 
trade between the subjects of Spain and Russia, with the unofficial blessing of Governor 
Arrillaga. Consequently, the governor did not discourage the activity, which he regarded as 
a profitable channel for obtaining much needed supplies for his province. At least three 
Russian shiploads of goods were exchanged for foodstuffs at San Francisco during 1815. Both 
the interim governor, Jose Argiiello, and the new one, Pablo Vicente de Sola, made feeble 
gestures in the direction of stopping the contraband exchange. 64 Neither of them carried out 
any serious efforts, however to enforce the orders of the Spanish government in this 
respect. 65 

In fact, Sola soon learned about the poor state of affairs in his province and the many types 
of goods lacking there to carry on daily life. In San Francisco, tools represented the most 
needed trade items in order to assist with the extensive repairs and new construction carried 
on in the area during 1815 and 1816. Early in 1816, Lieutenant Argiiello asked Governor Sola 
for some of the axes and other tools brought by the American ship Prisionera. At this same 
time Argiiello reported the destruction of the Presidio launch in a recent storm; the launch 
had been used for the vital task of carrying wood used in the work. Argiiello promised to 
build a new launch after he recaptured his labor force of Indian prisoners ~ 18 of them had 
escaped the day before. 66 



62. Captain William Black to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, March 4 and 29, 1814, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, XII, 371 and 373. 

63. Report, Anonymous [probably Moraga), San Francisco, July 30, 1814, ibid., XII, 364-68. 

64. Pablo Vicente de Sola, a Basque from Villa of Mondragon, Viscaya, was born in 1761 into the Hidalgo class. 
From November 11, 1805, to February 20, 1807, this bachelor served as ad interim habilitado general of the 
Californias. On December 31, 1814, his appointment as governor of Nueva California was made, although he did 
not reach Monterey to take charge until August 30, 1815. He remained in his office until late November 1822 when 
he set sail for Mexico. After that, few details are known about this last Spanish governor of the province. Nuttall, 
"Gobernantes": 279-80. 

65. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 303-308. Sola, upon observing the extreme poverty of the troops in 
California, came to grasp the need to deal with the Russians in terms of trade but all the while keeping up a 
protest over territorial encroachment, especially related to Fort Ross. Pritchard, "Joint Tenants": 86-87. 

66. Luis Argiiello to Governor Sola, San Francisco, February 29, 1816, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XIII, 42-44; 46. 

90 



The first job of 1815 started with the post chapel. Laborers tore down the old chapel, which 
had been rendered unusable by the earthquakes of former years, to its foundation. A 
provisional chapel went into use in February 1816, as a stopgap until the proposed 
completion of a permanent structure during the summer (actually there was a two-year delay 
in the building of the permanent chapel). Elsewhere, new roofs of tile, presumably being 
made locally, finally replaced the old ones of rule, which so frequently had been destroyed 
by wind and rain. In other work, laborers built a corral at the king's ranch at Las Pulgas. 

More significantly, the original Castillo de San Joaquin gave way to an entirely new fort. 
Brevet sublieutenant Manuel de Luz Gomez of the artillery supervised the work. Gomez, with 
the master carpenter and soldier, Jose Franco, along with five Indians from Mission Santa 
Clara and four from Mission San Jose, used 200 beams and 600 planks for the esplanade on 
which to place the guns. Work began in October 1815 in response to the Russian presence at 
Fort Ross. 67 Apparently the construction work went forward without the use of any of the 
nails and spikes because Sola continually received requests for 3,600 nine-inch spikes. 68 

Governor Sola promised some additional armament for the fort. After the workers completed 
the reconstruction on the castillo, Sola sent three 8-pounder cannons, with 300 balls, to be 
mounted behind the merlons. The guns may have arrived in California with a shipload of 
military stores that included enough arms and ammunition to stage a small war. Evidently, 
the shipment did not include badly needed nonmilitary supplies. 69 



67. When Gomez came to California is unknown but he did not arrive with the first detachment of artillerymen 
in 1797. In 1818, he was at Monterey and some accused him of treachery in connection with the attack by rebels 
from Argentina that occurred there in that year. Gomez married the daughter of Jose Maria Estudillo and returned 
Mexico with Governor Sola, late in 1822. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 470. Of Jose Franco, nothing is 
known. There is one reference to a man by the name of Pablo Franco being sent as a convict settler in 1797, 
arriving in that year with several artisans who landed in Monterey. Ibid., vol. I, 606. 

Luis Argiiello to Pablo Vicente de Sola, San Francisco, December 30, 1816, AGMS, Section X. A plan of the new 
battery depicting the esplanade as a horseshoe rather than as an irregular quadrangle as had been the case in the 
prior construction efforts went forward with various correspondence about this endeavor, lauding Argiiello, 
Gomez, and Franco for their performance and sending the entire matter through the chain of command to Spain. 
Manuel Gomez to Governor Sola, San Francisco, December 31, 1816, ibid.; Governor Sola to Viceroy Jose Ruiz de 
Apodaca, Monterey, January 20, 1817, ibid.; Viceroy Apodaca to Governor Sola, Mexico City, May 22, 1817, ibid.; 
Viceroy Apodaca to Minister of War, Mexico City, May 22, 1817, ibid; Minister of War to Viceroy Apodaca, 
Madrid, November 8, 1818, ibid. 

This plan and the accompanying letters shed light on the mystery of why Bancroft's History of California and other 
19th century works depict the semicircular version of the castillo. Dr. Eric Beerman of Madrid discovered these 
materials and deserves credit for resolving this matter, which had confused many earlier writers on the subject. 

68. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 371-72. Luis Argiiello to Governor Sola, San Francisco, February 29, 
March 31, April 15, May 31, and November 30, 1816, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XIII, 45-46, 124, 
and 135-37. 

69. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 212-13; Luis Argiiello to Governor Sola, San Francisco, November 30, 
1816, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XIII, 124. 

91 



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Figure 17. After a major rebuilding of the Castillo, in the late Spanish period, the fort took on 
a new horseshoe shape. This 1816 schematic, complete with Spanish flag and sixteen cannon, 
bears the legend: "Battery of San Joaquin of the Port of San Francisco in New California." The 
esplanade remained of wood and the walls of brick and of mortar. The placement of the 
guardhouse and its corridor shifted to the west rather than in the center as had been the case 
with the earlier accommodations for the artillery detachment. Double gates and walls protect 
the rear. Archivo General Militar de Segovia, Section X. 



92 



In the meantime, the artillery detachment remained small. In 1802, a corporal and five 
privates came aboard the brigantine Activo. Shortly thereafter, one of the gunners left for 
Monterey. 70 By the end of the year, Argiiello noted he only had an artillery corporal and 
three gunners. Two years later, under threat that all the cannoneers would be withdrawn 
from California, Arrillaga protested and managed to keep their removal from taking place. 71 
That he succeeded in halting this movement is evident because a corporal and four privates 
of artillery appeared on the Presidio of San Francisco's rolls in 1806 and, in 1808, that same 
number was present with the detachment now being commanded by a corporal rather than 
a sergeant. Reports through 1817 read the same, with the exception that the noncommissioned 
officer, Manuel Gomez, was listed as a sergeant second class and a brevet alferez. 72 

In 1817, Gomez complained that he needed to recruit two or three more men because those 
he had on hand were not fit for duty, all being invdlidos or so sickly as to be of little use. Later 
that year, he and one of his men went to Monterey for a short period, thereby leaving only 
two privates and a non-commissioned officer at the fort. 73 

Evidently, the situation remained the same throughout the Spanish period of occupation since 
both Gomez and Sola noted nine vacancies to fill the ranks but no one came forward to join. 
The only addition to his numbers was Antonio Montero, who had been sent to San Francisco 
as a punishment for bad conduct, thereby requiring Gomez to watch over his charge. Gomez 
soon found Montero too difficult to deal with as he proceeded to have an affair with a local 
married woman. Because of the "inevitable disgrace" that situation would cause, once the 
husband learned of the matter, Gomez wanted to transfer the culprit. It seems that not only 
did the husband, Tomas Patron, know about the adultery but also he even may have 
condoned his spouse's conduct. 74 

Gomez's plight continued as his numbers fell even further when artilleryman Juan Briones 
sustained an injury when firing a salute in 1819 and died shortly thereafter. Artillerist Joaquin 
Mendoza also passed away during the same month, leaving Gomez with three men besides 



70. Jose Argiiello to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, July 28, 1802, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XI, 230. 



71. Bancroft, History of California, vol. I, 26. 

72. Jose Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 31, 1802, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Benicia 
Military, XVI, 116; Jose Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 31, 1806, ibid., 322; Luis Argiiello's Report, 
San Francisco, December 31, 1808, ibid., 378; Luis Argiiello's Report, December 31, 1809, ibid., XVII, 14; Luis 
Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 1, 1813, ibid., 17; Luis Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 1, 
1817, ibid., 100. 

73. Manuel Gomez to Governor Sola, San Francisco, March 31, 1817, August 31, 1817, and December 31, 1817, 
Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XIII, 175-177; Luis Argiiello's Report, December 1, 1817, ibid., Benicia 
Military, XVII, 100. 

74. Luis Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, September 1, 1818, Archives of California, Sacramento, LIV, 111; Luis 
Argiiello's Report, San Francisco, December 1, 1881, ibid., Benicia Military, XVII, 294-295; Manuel Gomez to 
Governor Sola, San Francisco, December 31, 1819 and April 21, 1820, ibid., Provincial State Papers, XIII, 257 and 
263. [Governor Sola?] to Manuel Gomez, Monterey, January 10, 1820 and March 20, 1820, ibid., Sacramento, LIV, 
249 and 254. 

93 



himself. 75 No doubt Gomez welcomed his departure from California in November 1822. His 
replacement, a Lieutenant Ramirez, would have to deal with the problems of command after 
that. 76 

While the artillery attempted to man the Castillo, most of the soldiers of the San Francisco 
garrison guarded work parties of Spanish and Indian prisoners. A few of the men performed 
less onerous duties. Several troopers from the four presidial companies went to San Francisco 
to be trained as drummers by a member of the garrison. At one point the post commander 
notified the governor that the drummers could learn no more, chiefly because they had 
learned all the teacher knew. 77 

On October 2, 1816, the arrival of the Russian brig Rurik broke the regular routine at the 
Presidio of San Francisco. The voyage, under the command of Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue 
of the Russian Imperial Navy, came as a scientific expedition, but the visit to San Francisco 
no doubt also served as an opportunity to check on the power of the Spanish government in 
California. 78 

Fortunately for posterity, the Russians came to observe more than just the state of defense. 
In fact, the expedition's interpreter in San Francisco, Adelbert von Chamisso, was a naturalist. 
He and his colleague, Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz, provided some of the first scientific 
information about the flora of present-day California, and most notably about the environs 
of the Presidio of San Francisco. They identified and named numerous species during the 
course of their work, including Eschsholtzia Californica, the "Golden Poppy," which was to 
become the state flower. 79 

In addition, Chamisso kept the most extensive journal of events at the port. When Rurik 
entered the harbor there Chamisso witnessed much activity at Fort San Joaquin. The 
Spaniards and the Russians hoisted their respective flags and exchanged cannon salutes. 
After the ship anchored in front of the Presidio, Chamisso and one of the officers of Rurik 
went ashore to meet Luis Arguello. The Spanish commander sent some fruits and vegetables 
on board the ship for the crew and dispatched a courier to Monterey with the news of the 
visitors' arrival. 

By October 4, the Russians had set up a camp on shore, in sight of the Presidio, which 
Kotzebue said still appeared as it had in Vancouver's descriptions. (See figure 18.) They 



75. Manuel Gomez to Governor Sola, San Francisco, December 18, 1819 and December 31, 1819, Archives of 
California, Provincial State Papers, XIII, 256. 

76. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 467-68. 

77. Luis Arguello to Governor Sola, San Francisco, March 31, 1816, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XIII, 135. 

78. August C. Mahr, ed., The Visit of the "Rurik" to San Francisco in 1816 (Menlo Park, Calif.: Stanford University 
Press, 1932) provides full details of this event. 

79. Ibid., 127-177; Alice Eastwood, "The Botanical Collections of Chamisso and Eschscholtz in California," IV 
Leaflets of Western Botany (1944): 17-32, and Ida Geary, "Chamisso, Eschscholtz, and the Plants of the Presidio," VI 
Fremontia no. 4 (January 1979): 3-9, and Mahr, Visit of the "Rurik", 127-77, provide details on this pioneering 
botanical work. Likewise consult Appendix D of this document for a list of the plants they cataloged on this and 
a subsequent trip to San Francisco. 

94 



would spend their days in various exchanges with the Presidio and the San Francisco 
Mission. On one occasion, they sent a sailor to repair the halyards by which the soldiers 
raised the Spanish colors on the garrison flagstaff because none of the Spaniards could climb 
the staff. 

The Russians did more entertaining than did the Spanish officers, who explained that they 
had not the means to be proper hosts because of a severe shortage of supplies. 80 According 
to Russian accounts, the Spaniards expressed their unhappiness about the neglect by the 
government in Mexico. Their bitterness extended to the grudging attitude with which the 
local missionaries supplied necessary provisions. 81 

Some two weeks after Rurik arrived in San Francisco, Governor Sola came to confer with the 
Russians about the settlement at Fort Ross. Gervasio Arguello went to Fort Ross to deliver 
a request to its commander to come to the meeting. The cannon salutes that announced the 
arrival of the governor, at the same time injured two of the artillerymen. The ship's surgeon 
provided aid. 82 

While Governor Sola waited in all his regimental finery for Lieutenant Kotzebue to appear 
at the Presidio, the lieutenant waited on board Rurik for Sola to come to him. This breach of 
protocol on the part of the younger, lesser-ranking officer briefly caused delay and hard 
feelings. Chamisso soon effected a compromise, and the two men met on the beach. 

After exchanging visits and dinners, the Spaniards held a dance. Sola promised a bull and 
bear fight. Spanish soldiers borrowed a boat from Mission Dolores and crossed the harbor 
entrance to the opposite shore, where they captured two bears, returning with one of them, 
and held the fight on the beach near the landing. The bear won. Chamisso thought the 
performance was "shamefully handled" and reacted unfavorably. Kotzebue, however, found 
the blood sport quite interesting and termed the show "remarkable." 83 



80. Earlier in the decade Arguello commented upon the pitiful state of his troops, especially those with families. 
Some of the command did not have shirts; others no jackets or breeches. Many had no sombreros. Luis Arguello 
to Governor Arrillaga, San Francisco, January 31, 1813, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XII, 342-43. 
It would seem that this condition fairly represented the poverty throughout the remaining years of Spanish rule. 

81. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik", 31-35. 

82. Ibid., 83. The Russians also noted that the only medical skill the local population practiced was bleeding, a 
dubious treatment taught to them by a previous ship's surgeon and, "being since applied on every occasion, is 
more fatal than advantageous." Only in rare instances did medical personnel from Spanish ships come ashore to 
aid San Francisco's population. For the most part, the people lacked such services, which were restricted to 
Monterey, the capital. The matter of medicine in Spanish Alta California is discussed by S. F. Cook, 'The Monterey 
Surgeons During the Spanish Period in California," V Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine no. 1 (January 
1937): 43-72. 

83. Mahr, Visit of the "Rurik", 37-41; 47. 

95 








Figure 18. According to Kotzebue, as quoted in Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," 65, Louis Choris 
occupied himself on October 5, 1816 at painting. This watercolor and pencil on paper view 
of the Presidio was one of his works while in the Bay Area and shows improvements made 
since the previous decade. The entire quadrangle is more regular and provides an enclosed 
compound, the east side finally being protected by a wall. Gardens behind the south wall and 
to the northeast have been fenced off and a corral appears just outside the main gate, toward 
the northwest. A lean-to, perhaps to cover forage for the stock in the corral, stands outside 
of the northwest corner. Trails lead from the south garden and from the main gate, four being 
evident, all heading toward the east. Low scrub covers the dunes, while below, off the sandy 
beach, a ship rides at anchor approximately across from the site of the present U. S. Coast 
Guard Station. A group of men and livestock can be seen toward the north. Other horses 
graze freely in the foreground, while a pair of mounted soldados ride to and from the post. 
The published version of this illustration showed much of the same detail with additions of 
more troops. It also depicted Indian work-parties guarded by the leather jacket soldiers. 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. 



96 



Subsequent diplomatic discussions between Governor Sola and Lieutenant Kotzebue 
accomplished little. Sola requested that Fort Ross be abandoned. The Russian explained that 
he had no authority to order such a withdrawal. The conference ended with the two men 
signing a report that referred the matter to their respective sovereigns. Sola also returned 
three Russian deserters from Fort Ross to Kotzebue after extracting a promise from him that 
the men would not be punished. With these matters attended to, the Russians made a few 
last-minute repairs, loaded provisions and water, and prepared to set sail. A last round of 
dinner parties with accompanying toasts followed. On October 28, flag-hoisting and artillery 
fire provided Rurik with an exciting departure from San Francisco after its nearly one-month 
stay. 

The visit of Rurik marked the end of Governor Sola's opposition to foreign trade. A critical 
need for supplies outweighed strict obeying of royal orders. During the last five years of 
Spanish rule in California, foreign ships frequently came to San Francisco to trade their goods 
for grain, tallow, furs, and produce. One of these ships, the French merchant vessel Le 
Bordelais, under the command of Lieutenant Camille de Roquefeuil of the French navy, visited 
the Presidio. He noticed that the houses of the officers had attractive furniture. The Spaniards 
complained of the lack of artisans at San Francisco, which for decades meant that only crude 
pieces existed. The availability of new furniture had become possible because of the presence 
of one of the Kodiak Indian prisoners, who had a talent for carpentry, and who was confined 
at the post. 

In addition to being treated to the commander's hospitality, Roquefeuil and most of his fellow 
officers attended services at the temporary chapel at the Presidio. He noted that mass took 
place "in a great hall, until the church which had been burned should be rebuilt." The Spanish 
kept the whitewashed interior in a neat fashion, while the Frenchman pronounced the altar 
"in pretty good taste" and described the surroundings as spare with only a few pictures and 
benches on the sides. At least the 40 or so soldiers and their families all appeared neatly 
dressed and respectful. "After the service two children sang in a correct and agreeable manner 
an invocation, each verse of which was repeated in chorus by the congregation." 84 Later, the 
local missionaries entertained the naval officer and acquainted him with the alarming 
decrease of the mission Indians in California. 85 

The Indian death rate in California in 1817 ran highest at Mission San Francisco. In an attempt 
to improve the health of the Indians, the missionaries at San Francisco opened a branch near 
what is now San Rafael as a place for sick neophytes to rest and recuperate. Because San 
Rafael Archangel was to be only an asistencia rather than a large-scale proselyting center, 
Governor Sola ordered a smaller mission guard than usual for the protection of the one 
Franciscan stationed there. 86 2 

Besides the troop transfers to San Rafael, several of the San Francisco officers received new 
orders. Cadet Gervasio Arguello, who had been the habilitado, went to Mexico, and Luis 



84. Zephyrn Englehardt, San Francisco or Mission Dolores (Chicago, 111.: Franciscan Herald Press, 1924), 161-62. 

85. Camille de Roquefeuil, "A Voyage Round the World Between the years 1816-1819," 23-27, in New Voyages and 
Travels: Consisting of Originals and Translations (London: Sir Richard Phillips and Co., 1823), vol. IX. 

86. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 329-30; [Governor Sola] to Luis Arguello, Monterey, December 14, 1817, 
Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 217. 

97 



Argiiello added his brother's duties to his own in 1816. In the following year Luis gained a 
promotion to captain. When Gabriel Moraga's rank of lieutenant came in 1818, the order 
listed him as being a member of the Santa Barbara company. To avoid having to rectify the 
mistake, Moraga transferred to Santa Barbara, and another lieutenant, Ignacio Martinez, came 
to replace him at San Francisco. 87 Santiago Argiiello rose to alferez and went to San Diego. 
A new cadet, Joaquin Estudillo, arrived from Monterey in 1818, while Moraga secured a 
cadet's position for his son, Jose Guadalupe, who left the San Francisco Company for San 
Diego. 88 

Sergeant Jose Sanchez earned a brevet as an ensign because of his leadership in an October 
1819 campaign against Indians in the San Joaquin valley. At the head of 25 men, Sanchez 
marched from San Jose to near present-day Stockton. There his soldiers and Indian auxiliaries 
defeated warriors of a local tribe who fought fiercely. Again, Spanish firepower and horses 
won the day since five soldados received wounds while one of their allies died. In turn, they 
killed 27 of the enemy and wounded another 20 besides bringing back 16 captives whom they 
put to work at forced labor upon their return at the end of the month. The prisoners made 
adobe to replace the last of the wooden sections of the wall surrounding the Presidio. 89 

Even before these expeditions the troops faced potentially more formidable opponents. Early 
in October 1818, an American ship captain in from the Sandwich Islands warned the 
Californians of trouble on the horizon. Two vessels flying the flag of the Buenos Aires 
insurgents were outfitting in preparation for a cruise to the North American Coast. Governor 
Sola immediately ordered an alert. He called for the boxing of any portable valuables and 
their movement to the interior, or making such things ready for removal at a moment's 
notice. Sola wanted women and children to be prepared for evacuation too. He told local 
officials to collect and store supplies in a safe place near the presidios for use in an emergency 
~ San Mateo being picked as the best location for the San Francisco area. The governor 
dispatched sentinels to stand watch at strategic places along the coast aided by couriers ready 
to spread the alarm. A call went out for the few available mihtiamen and all able-bodied 
civilian males to obtain firearms, and Indian neophyte archers were to report to each 
presidio. 90 



87. A native of Mexico City, Martinez had enter the Santa Barbara Company some 25 years earlier as a cadet. He 
did not welcome the new assignment at first, having to relocate with his four daughters, "all of whom had taken 
their falls from horses at some point on the way; but none of them minded, or stopped galloping their horses in 
their haste to reach 'their country/ as they called it." He and his wife had five more children and remained in 
the Bay Area for the rest of their lives. Martinez would hold many positions after leaving the military, including 
appointments at San Rafael and elsewhere. He died around 1850 at his ranch in Contra Costa County, the county 
seat being named in his honor. Brown, "Pomponio's World," 9. 

88. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 370; [Governor Sola?) to Gabriel Moraga, Monterey, April 15, 1818 and 
[Governor Sola?) to Luis Argiiello, Monterey, July 4, 1818, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, LIV, 220 and 224. For more on the various troops strengths of the late 1780s through the early 1820s 
see comparative statistics in Appendix C. 

89. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 335 and Amador, "Memorias," 15-16. 

90. Governor Sola to presidio commanders, Monterey, October 8, 1818, Archives of California, Provincial State 
Papers, XIII, 246-253. Even before all these precautions, the governor warned Argiiello to be watchful of foreigners, 
European or American, and to report any activities in his area. [Governor Sola?] to Luis Argiiello, Monterey, April 
18, 1818, ibid., Sacramento, LIV, 221. 

98 



With all the precautions, the next several weeks passed in watchfulness. Then, on November 
20, 1818, the two dreaded ships, Argentina and Santa Rosa de Chacabuco, appeared at the port 
of Monterey. When Sola refused to surrender his capital, a short battle ensued. After heavy 
cannonading back and forth, some 260 insurgents made a landing, driving the greatly 
outnumbered and outgunned Spaniards from their defenses. Sola and his men retreated to 
the district's rancho del rey at what is now Salinas. There, they waited for reinforcements. 
Meanwhile, the Buenos Airens, under the command of Hippolyte de Bouchard, sacked and 
burned the town. 91 

At 2:00 a.m., on the morning following the attack, a courier galloped into the Presidio of San 
Francisco. The sentry awakened Lieutenant Moraga, who promptly gathered all the available 
cavalry and headed for Monterey. As the unit moved south their numbers grew, the escoltas 
joining the main force as it went as reinforcements for the capital. Invdlidos replaced the 
regular soldiers at the missions. Outside of Monterey, Moraga's troops rendezvoused with 
soldiers from the other three presidios of Upper California and briefly drilled under the 
command of Luis Argiiello but did little to threaten the insurgents before they set sail, 
sometime between November 22 and December l. 92 Once the invaders left, some of the San 
Francisco contingent remained for several months in Monterey. 93 

Bouchard's boldness prompted New Spain's authorities into sending long-needed 
reinforcements to strengthen California. In the summer of 1819 200 landed in the province 
with arms, ammunition, and artillery pieces. Some brought wives and children. San Diego 
and Santa Barbara split a cavalry company. Forty foot soldiers from the San Bias Infantry 
went to San Francisco, but they proved more of a liability than an asset. Most of them had 
been kidnapped by press-gangs or recruited from jails in Nueva Galicia. Unruly and refusing 
to conform to military discipline, the newcomers caused considerable trouble, yet their 
commander managed to employ them in enough tasks at the Presidio and Castillo to free 
Argiiello's horse soldiers to greater advantage elsewhere in the district. 94 Indeed, as soon as 
the infantry gained a rudimentary knowledge of handling weapons, Argiiello sent Sergeant 
Sanchez with a force that included some of the newcomers to return fugitives from Mission 
San Jose and to put a stop to raids on that mission's horse herds. 95 

While their comrades kept busy in the field, the few remaining artillerymen at Castillo de San 
Joaquin supervised the building of esplanades to accommodate the additional cannon that 
accompanied the San Bias reinforcements. Argiiello informed his superior that he had 
emplaced the four cannon, brought from San Bias, in the most advantageous positions. 
Construction of esplanades to accommodate them also was underway while an Indian 
woodcutting provided materials for castillo rebuilding efforts. The commandant indicated that 



91 . Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 228-34, Kibbey M. Home, A History of the Presidio of Monterey 1 770 to 1970 
(Presidio of Monterey, Calif.: Defense Language Institute West Coast Branch, 1970), 19-23. 

92. Home, A History of the Presidio of Monterey, 21, states that the two ships left on December 1, 1818. For a fuller 
account of the entire episode read Frances Casey Jones, "California in the Spanish American Wars of Independence: 
The Bouchard Invasion," (MA Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, Calif., 1921). 

93. Amador, "Memorias," 50-55. 

94. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 253-55. 

95. [Governor Sola] to Luis Argiiello, Rancho del Rey [at Salinas], September 22, 1819, Archives of California, 
Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 241-42. 

99 



the other armament on hand consisted of three 24-pounders of iron, one 12-pounder, a 
cracked 6-pounder, one 8-pounder, six medium 8-pounder culverins, and two swivel guns. 96 
This was the same number of artillery pieces reported in 1805. Consequently, it is difficult to 
ascertain why the four new guns did not appear in the report. Moreover, the 24-pounders 
were rusted and one of the 12-pounders was fair while five of the eight bronzes could be 
considered in good condition and three in fair shape only. Three cannon at Santa Clara 
Mission stored in the school of cantors were called to the governor's attention and he ordered 
them to be removed to San Francisco. 97 

By 1820, most of the 20 guns were in poor condition and, for the want of cannon scrapers, 
were unusable. 98 Meanwhile, the artillery complement decreased with the death of one of 
the men due to natural causes. Another member of the dwindling unit succumbed to mortal 
wounds sustained when firing a salute on the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. 99 In 
order to make up for such reductions in force, infantrymen temporarily substituted as 
gunners, until replacements could be obtained. 

About 1820, circumstances improved, when a detachment of nearly 20 artillerymen came from 
Mexico under Sublieutenant Jose Ramirez. A few artisans numbered in the group whom one 
observer of the period described as "nearly all men of good character and Pure Spanish 
blood." 100 Their arrival represented the last important reinforcements to be sent from 
Mexico. 

The completion of a shot furnace for the guns of the Castillo followed shortly after the 
contingent took up its new post. 101 Perhaps the gunners occasionally halted their work to 
fire salutes on those occasions when foreign vessels entered the harbor. 102 

As some soldiers went about these fatigue details, other performed different duties. Because 
presidios functioned in both military and judicial capacities as well, one officer looked into 
the theft of a trunk or its contents belonging to Padre Ramon Olbes. The investigation 
revealed that Jose Antonio Robles and his son committed the crime. The penalty placed the 



96. Luis Argiiello to Governor Sola, San Francisco, August 31, 1819, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
XIII, 235; Manuel Gomez to Governor Sola, San Francisco, March 21, 1820, ibid., XIII, 259, and Report of Luis 
Argiiello, San Francisco, December 1, 1819, ibid., Benicia Military, XVII, 325. 

97. Report of Mariano Fernandez, San Francisco, June 30, 1805, ibid., XVI, 237; Manuel Gomez to Governor Sola, 
San Francisco, December 31, 1819 and April 21, 1820, ibid., Provincial State Papers, XIII, 257 and 263. 

98. Anonymous to Manuel Gomez, Monterey, March 27, 1820, ibid., Sacramento, LIV, 255. 

99. Luis Argiiello to Governor Sola, San Francisco, August 31, 1819 and Manuel Gomez to Governor Sola, San 
Francisco, December 18 and 31, 1819, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XIII 235 and 256. 

100. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 263 and 371-72. 

101. Gomez called the governor's attention to the fact that San Francisco should have a shot oven (hornUlo de bala 
roja) similar to those at San Diego and Monterey. He received the reply to build one. Manuel Gomez to Governor 
Sola, San Francisco, April 21, 1820, ibid., XIII, 263 and [Governor Sola?] to Luis Argiiello, Monterey, March 27, 
1820, ibid., Sacramento, LIV, 255. 

102. [Governor Sola?] to Luis Argiiello, Monterey, April 27, 1820, ibid., LIV, 256. 

100 



younger man at hard labor for four years and the older one, due to the poor state of his 
health, at hard labor for two years. 103 

In another instance, Ignacio Martinez served as prosecuting attorney and chief investigator 
in a criminal case against a Branciforte settler accused of raping his three stepdaughters, the 
eldest of whom had delivered a child, evidently causing the sordid affair to be known by the 
general public. Martinez recommended that the man serve four years at the Presidio of San 
Francisco in leg irons at hard labor, then be banished from California. Whether this sentence 
was carried out is unclear. Martinez further called for the admonishment of the mother to 
watch over her children with more care so that they would not be victimized again. Finally, 
he called for the trio of girls to receive 25, 50, and 60 lashes for the youngest through the 
oldest respectively. Evidently, he felt that they should have come forth to the authorities in 
this matter. 104 

When not serving as investigators, prosecutors, or judges, some soldiers continued to perform 
as a police force or even a posse. For instance, 90 soldiers, citizens, and neophytes pursued 
thieves who had robbed Mission San Jose. Attacking at dawn, the troops and their allies killed 
eight or 10 of their quarry, while most escaped from this inland rancheria. They captured two 
of the survivors, however, and took them back for a public lashing as an example and warned 
that repeated activities would result in death. 105 

Another outing proved more peaceful as a detachment from the Presidio journeyed to Fort 
Ross. Sometime around 1822, troopers made a goodwill visit to the Russians, who distributed 
small, useful articles to their Spanish guests. They made certain that each man received a silk 
shirt, for which the poverty-stricken soldados expressed their gratitude. When the Spaniards 
returned to their homes, they were the envy of those not fortunate enough to make the trip 
northward. 106 

Such intercourse bespoke of Governor Sola's decision to encourage foreign relations insofar 
as trade was concerned. Duties collected as an outgrowth of exchange with the outside world 
provided a primary means to pay the troops and to obtain supplies for the province no longer 
available from the home government. 



103. Luis Arguello to Gabriel Moraga, San Francisco, March 27, 1819, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Benicia Military, XVII, 296-297 and [Governor Sola?! to Luis Arguello, Monterey, June 4, 1819, ibid., Sacramento, 
LIV, 235. 

104. Ignacio Martinez, San Francisco, September 18, 1819, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XVII, 307- 
319. In another rape case, Martinez recommended that a man who attacked his sister-in-law be confined at hard 
labor in leg irons in San Diego. He was to be fined 200 pesos to take care of the woman and the child she was 
expecting as a result of this attack. Ignacio Martinez, San Francisco, May 5, 1821, ibid., XVII, 348-49. 

105. Amador, "Memorias," 16-17. This harsh sentence possibly was carried out in another instance when a Santa 
Cruz neophyte was accused of murdering Padre Andres Quintana. Report of Ignacio Martinez, San Francisco, 
November 21, 1820, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, XVII, 248-250. The fate of this defendant and that 
of the soldier Jose Antonio Aguilar, accused of killing two Indian neophytes and then taking asylum with 13 
Indians who may have been his accomplices, is not known. Anonymous to Luis Arguello, Rancho del Real 
Hacienda, September 14, 1819, ibid., Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, LIV, 241. 

106. Amador, "Memorias," 24-25. 

101 



In spite of substituting these sources of support for the negligent Spanish crown, the 
Californians remained loyal to their monarch for a short while longer. In fact, hearing rumors 
of Americans or Britons in the interior of northern California, local officials set out to halt 
encroachment into "His Catholic Majesty's" realm. On October 18, 1822, Governor Sola placed 
Luis Argiiello in charge of a 55-man strike force of cavalry and mounted infantry, made up 
of individuals from the Monterey and San Francisco garrisons. Argiiello had two ensigns, a 
cadet, a friar, and an interpreter-guide who spoke English, with his contingent. He also took 
along a small cannon and a herd of cattle for food. 

The men sailed in boats to Carquinez. From the straits they rode up the Sacramento Valley 
for nine days. After following the Sacramento River for some distance, Argiiello turned west 
and crossed the Trinity Mountains. Then, moving south along the Coast Range, one part of 
his unit passed near Fort Ross before swinging down to San Rafael. On the Marin shore, they 
boarded boats and returned to San Francisco, on November 13, having been in the field for 
four weeks. 107 

They saw no sign of the supposed invaders on what amounted to one of the most ambitious 
field exercises undertaken by San Francisco troops under Spain. In addition, they gained more 
knowledge about the area they traversed, which prior to that time had been explored 
imperfectly. As a consequence, this foray represented the last major effort of its sort under 
the Spanish flag. 

Soon, a new regime in Mexico City would replace Madrid's nearly four decades of control 
at the Presidio of San Francisco. 108 Despite decades of neglect by Madrid the collapse of 
Spanish power in Alta California still did not occur because of internal reactions or foreign 
intervention. Instead, revolution in Mexico broke the long-standing, though fragile ties 
between the King in Spain and his traditionally loyal Calif ornio subjects. 



107. Amador, "Memorias," 19-23; Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 445-49. 

108. Jorge I. Dominguez, Insurrection or Loyalty: The Breakdown of the Spanish American Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: 
Harvard University Press, 1980), offers contextual information about the break in the relationship between Spain 
and her New World colonies. 

102 



CHAPTER 4 

A SICKLY COLUMN OF SMOKE RISING FROM SOME DILAPIDATED WALLS: 

THE MEXICAN REGIME, 1822-1846 



The conclusion of Spanish rule in Alta California, following the collapse of Spain's empire in 
Mexico, had little immediate impact upon the Presidio of San Francisco. Then, in April 1822, 
an anticlimactic ending came to decades of discontent and neglect. Between April 11 and 20, 
1822, the governor and officers of California took an oath of allegiance to the new regime of 
Agustin Iturbide who had been proclaimed Emperor Agustin I. The garrisons from San Diego 
to San Francisco now changed their titles from "royal" to "imperial." 1 Don Luis Argiiello, 
comandante of the San Francisco district, remained in command, simply ordering a review of 
the troops and a display of drill and firing of volleys. With the blasting forth of a 21 -gun 
salute from the walls of the Castillo, Mexican hegemony in San Francisco officially began. 2 

Nevertheless, the lines of continuity between the Spanish and the Mexican rule in California 
were strong and striking. The customs and the language of the old European power lived on 
through the soldiers and officers who performed their duties at missions and presidios. More 
immediately significant for San Francisco was the persistence of neglect in policy and 
instability in government that marked the new Mexican authority. 

Incoming political leaders in Mexico City made little attempt to rectify the Spanish mistakes 
in the California colonies. Thus, the Californios remained dependent upon their meager 
resources and undeveloped initiative to maintain their presidios. 

In November 1822, Argiiello left San Francisco to become acting governor of Alta California. 
Less than a year later, Agustin Fernandez San Vicente came from Mexico to replace him. 
Fernandez's concerns, as it soon became obvious, revolved around the supposed threat posed 
by Russian activity at Fort Ross. With the Spanish out of the way, Fernandez feared that the 
Russians might take advantage of California's disarray and attempt to seize the land for 
themselves. The fear that Spanish Royalists would receive French support in any effort to 
regain control of Mexico further complicated San Vicente's sense of insecurity. His response 
was to bluff the Russians into submission. He told them either to vacate Fort Ross in six 
months or face expulsion by military force. 3 

As had been the case with the Spanish before them, the Mexicans could not support their 
threat with military strength. The condition of the troops in northern California was sad. 
Stores of both ammunition and general supplies were low. Argiiello, who had returned to his 
position of commander at San Francisco with the arrival of Fernandez, requested 400 carbines, 
sabers, and cartridge boxes to bolster his military inventory. 4 Meanwhile, Iturbide fell from 



1. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 455, 466-68. 

2. Amador, "Memorias," 44. 

3. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 464 n. 

4. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 673 n. 



103 



Figure 19. The files of Edward Vischer (1808-1878), a pioneer in the study of the missions and 
presidios of Alta California, included this diagram of the Presidio of San Francisco in 1820. 
While Mariano G. Vallejo certified a tracing based on this depiction, according to Zoeth S. 
Eldredge on December 25, 1908, its accuracy cannot be verified, especially since Vallejo did 
not report for duty to the post until many years after the date of this map. It does tend to 
conform to other earlier plans and follows the descriptions of various visitors to the post from 
the 1790s, thereby representing the general characteristics of the post through the late Spanish 
regime and into the early Mexican regime. The information translates: 

Founded on September 17, 1776 by Moraga, Quiros and Fr. Palou 
Presidio of San Francisco 1820 

Below this legend was a symbol and the words Hasta Bandero (flag staff). Beyond this stood 
the principal defense (Guardia Principal), the walls being in ruins (Ruinas Muralla). The gate 
(Porta de la Compa) looked out to a vista of bay, the entrance of the port, Alcatraz, Angel 
Island, and the sand dune cape (Arenas de Medanos Capas) which formed a beach in front of 
the anchorage (marked by an anchor) and the pool (Pozo de los Marineros) which served as the 
source of water for ships' crews. The remaining structures of the north side included the jail 
(Calabozo), while the west side, with its walls intact, served as the dwellings for the soldiers. 
The remaining wall continued around to the southwest, ending at the ruins of the chapel, 
which was the principal structure of the Presidio before earthquakes destroyed the church in 
1812. ("Esta era la fachada principal del Presidio, antes que fuese arruinaba iglesia por los 
temblores de 1812.") Facing the collapsed church, quarters for officers stood on the right and 
for the commander on the left. Most of the east wall and a center sector of the buildings lay 
in ruins. The barracks (cuartel) still stood, however, in the northeast section and its protective 
wall remained intact. Inside the square, symbols for posts, which possibly held up a veranda, 
appeared. Roads to the castillo, Yerba Buena, and Mission Dolores or San Francisco de Assis, 
founded October 4, 1776, by Fr. Palou, Moraga, and Quiros, were included as were two 
symbols for the dwellings of Macros Briones y Miramontes. Behind this was a circular symbol 
for a water hole (Ojo de Agua) supplied by El Polin Spring. Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, Calif. 



104 






> 









■ 



W 
Z 



•')/>»"//• 



m 



I^JJ/U/c ab lb*, I 

jfT, : 



?<• 



■F 



6mA. 



105 



power in Mexico City in March 1823. By April, the Republic replaced the Empire. 5 San 
Vincente lost the governorship in Monterey, leaving Argiiello alone in a possible 
confrontation with the Russians that he himself had not initiated. 

Argiiello soon made an about-face in his negotiations with the enemy. He contracted with the 
Russian- American Company to permit them to hunt otters off the California shoreline and 
in the San Francisco Bay. In return, inventories at the presidios periodically were to be 
enriched by an equal division of furs between the Russians and the Californios. The agreement 
was renewed several times over the next few years. Argiiello's own ship, Rover, transported 
the local government's share of furs to China. 6 For the use of his ship, Don Luis received a 
percentage of the profit from sales. The involvement of monetary self-interest in the 
negotiation of international agreements became an increasingly common feature of the way 
in which the Californios managed the affairs of a far-off and inattentive central authority. 

In addition to the cooling of relations with the Russians, Argiiello tried to improve life at the 
Presidio through a series of semiofficial acts. In 1824, he and a small committee called for the 
adoption of the Mexican Plan de Gobierno, a temporary constitution that included important 
provisions for the organization and annual pay of the military. 7 In a separate decision, in 
January 1825, Argiiello and the junta decreed that presidial company strength should 
henceforth stand at 70 to 75 soldiers, a considerable increase over previous official levels. 
Finally, he instituted a work plan for the improvement of the defenses, whereby vagrants, 
"evil-disposed persons," and if need be, Indians, were to be hired at low rates of pay to relieve 
the soldiers from menial and unskilled labor. 8 

The funds to carry out such well-meaning plans were, however, nonexistent. The cost of 
running California's government, including the forts, required an estimated 130,000 pesos per 
annum. Even though the national treasury in Mexico City theoretically provided the money, 
in practice the Californios remained reliant on their own devices to generate revenue. Taxes 
and customs brought in only half the necessary funds. Consequently, deficit spending 
increasingly filled the gap. 9 

In an effort to rectify the financial woes, officials imposed duties on goods entering California. 
Moreover, they restricted the entry of trade goods to the two customs houses, one at 
Monterey and the other at San Diego. These practices split the officers into warring factions 
and indirectly encouraged the already popular practice of smuggling, which had begun in the 
Spanish era. 10 So widespread was illegal trade that high-ranking Mexican officials, such as 



5. Ignacio Martinez to Luis Argiiello, San Francisco, May 1, 1823, Archives of California, Provincial State Papers, 
Sacramento, XXXI, 2. 

6. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 494. 

7. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 511-12. This document included pay scales which essentially remained the 
same as those allowed by Spain, starting at 1,200 pesos for captains down to 217.50 pesos per year for privates. 

8. Ibid., 673 n. 

9. Ibid., vol. Ill, 58-59. 

10. Nellie Van de Grift Sanchez, Spanish Arcadia (Los Angeles, Calif.: Powell Publishing Company, 1929) discusses 
smuggling, among other topics. Even published works became an item of illegal trade as noted in William F. 
Strobridge, "Book Smuggling in Mexican California," XXXII The American Neptune no. 2 (April 1972): 117-22. 

106 



Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, who later became the commander of San Francisco garrison, dealt 
in contraband." 

To add further insult, pay continually fell in arrears. The government responded by issuing 
a cargo of paper cigars (cigarettes) in lieu of cash. However, restrictions existed on the sale 
of tobacco. The troops reverted to black market channels and bartered for the necessities they 
lacked. 12 Corruption had so loosened the bonds of loyalty to any one government that, in 
1824, Jose Maria Estudillo of the Presidio of San Francisco supposedly contended, "Our 
soldiers are all of one mind; whoever pays them the arrears due from the Spanish 
government is their master; he purchases him [sic] and to him they belong." 13 The decline 
in troop strength at the Presidio followed inevitably upon the failure to solve the problem of 
how to pay the soldiers. On February 6, 1824, Argiiello reported to the minister of war in 
Mexico City that he would be obliged to muster out the entire San Bias and Mazatlan 
Companies as well as provisionally retire several presidial soldiers if money were not 
immediately forthcoming. 14 Increasing numbers of men left the service voluntarily to take 
up what they hoped would be more lucrative employment on ranchos or at the Pueblo San 
Jose. With declining productivity at the rancho de la nation, the new name for the rancho del 
rey at Buriburi, the remaining soldiers could not count upon the steady supply of meat that 
made their diet slightly better than that of the average civilian. 15 Without loyalty, pay, or 
benefits, little remained to hold a soldier in the service of the Mexican Republic. 

Several visitors from foreign nations testified in their travel accounts to the sorry state of 
affairs in San Francisco. In 1824, Otto von Kotzebue's ship entered the harbor which he saw 
the Mexican flag flying over the castillo. As the Russian sailed into port for his second visit 
to the Bay Area his vessel fired a salute but heard no reply. Later, Kotzebue claimed that a 
soldier from the castillo came aboard his to beg for powder so that the Spanish might answer 
this salute. 16 Although Kotzebue's story itself is somewhat suspect, other visitors 



11. Vallejo joined the Mexican military on January 8, 1824, as a cadet at Monterey, serving with the presidial 
company there for three years. He became a corporal in 1825, rather than advancing directly to ensign as had been 
the practice during the Spanish regime. The next year he went on to become a sergeant, proving, "an apt student, 
[who] learned quickly, and had a great liking for discipline, authority, and activities of military life." On July 30, 
1827, just a week before his 19th birthday, this aptitude and interest brought the young Vallejo an ensignship when 
a vacancy came open at San Francisco with the transfer of Santiago Argiiello to San Diego. He would remain at 
Monterey, however, until April 1830, when he joined the garrison in the Bay Area. Thereafter, his career continued 
to move upward. At age 29 he earned a captaincy and by 1836 he held a commission as a colonel. The man 
became a prominent figure in northern California history and enjoyed a long life. George Tays, "Mariano 
Guadalupe Vallejo and Sonoma," XVI California Historical Society Quarterly no. 2 (June 1937): 99-121; no. 3 
(September 1937): 216-54; no. 4 (December 1937): 348-72; XVII no. 2 June 1938): 141-67, and no. 3 (September 1938): 
219-42. 

12. Frederick William Beechey, An Account of a Visit to California, 1826-1827 Reprinted from a Narrative of A Voyage 
to the Pacific and Bering Strait (San Francisco, Calif.: The Grabhorn Press, 1941), 6-7. 

13. Otto von Kotzebue, A New Voyage Round the World in 1823, 24, 25 and 26 vol. II (London: Henry Colburn & 
Richard Bentley, 1830), 110. 

14. Luis Argiiello to minister of war, Monterey, February 6, 1824, Archives of California, Department State Papers, 
LXXVII, 214. 

15. Frank M. Stanger, South from San Francisco (San Mateo, Calif.: San Mateo County Historical Association, 1963), 
25-26. 

16. Kotzebue, A New Voyage Round the World, vol. II, 74-75. 

107 



underscored the unpreparedness they observed. 17 On shore, Kotzebue found, "The Presidio 
was in the same state in which I found it eight years before [1816]; and, except [for] the 
republican flag, no trace of the important changes which had taken place was perceptible. 
Everything was going on in the old, easy, careless way." 18 

Another Russian ship, the frigate Cruiser, also anchored in the bay during 1824. One of her 
officers, Dmitry Irinarkhovich Zavalishin, noted that not one of the four presidios in Alta 
California "deserved the name fortress." He went on to indicate that originally a presidio 
consisted of 

a large quadrangle, one-story building of unfired brick whose exterior was blank and 
hence had to be replaced by a wall or rampart to form the main defense against 
attacks of savages. Inside, around the entire building, ran a gallery or hedge which 
connected all the quarters. In front of the single gate on the inside stood two 
cannons; in San Francisco's presidio there was a special commander of artillery. He 
also commanded the battery erected on the promontory at the entrance to the bay, 
and ships had to pass under its line of fire. In case of danger livestock and fowl were 
driven into the spacious interior courtyard, and all belongings were brought there, 
since in such cases the residents of the surrounding settlements and missions 
withdrew to the presidio. 

Then the young Russian continued to describe the state that xisted in the place of the ideal. 
He noted: 

But as danger of attack from savages diminished or, at least, came to affect only the 
more remote missions, they began to permit outside buildings at the presidios, and 
as a result it became necessary to make passageways through the heretofore blank 
outer wall. Lately, even Russian expeditions have had bakeries attached to the outer 
wall for the baking of both fresh bread and extra rusks for a cruise. This is how San 
Francisco's presidio became a rather formless pile of half-ruined dwellings, sheds, 
storehouses, and other structures. The floors, of course, were everywhere of stone 
or dirt, and not only stoves but also fireplaces were lacking in the living quarters. 
Whatever had to be boiled or fried was prepared in the open air, mostly on cast 
brick; they warmed themselves against the cold air over hot coals in pots or braziers. 
There was no glass in the windows. Some people had only grating in their windows. 
The entrance doors to some compartments (for example the president's 
[commandant's] room) were so large that one passed from the interior courtyard to 
the outside through the wall on horse-back. 

Since Zavalishin's duties required that he remain on shore for extended periods, he had the 
frigate's carpenter fit out a portion of the commandant's quarters in European style complete, 



17. Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 13. 

18. Kotzebue, A New Voyage Round the World, vol. II, 86. He noted that the soldiers continued to use the lance, 
large sword, and large spurs and were "accoutered in a panoply of leather" which tended to indicate that they still 
wore the cuera. ibid., 107. 

108 



"with a wooden floor, glass pane windows, and European furniture." He smugly added that 
his quarters boasted "a spare copper hearth from the frigate." 19 

Zavalishin's claim that the Russians set up some bakeries outside the walls of the protective 
quadrangle points to a practice that seemingly continued through the remainder of the 
Mexican period of occupation because, beginning during the Spanish regime, commanders 
received permission to grant building lots to soldiers and other residents within the range of 
4 square leagues, 2 leagues in each direction from the center of the presidio square, based 
upon a 1791 opinion interpreting Article 81 of the Ordinanza de Independientes. 20 In 1825, 
American Captain Benjamin Morrell indicated that some 120 households lived in the district 
with approximately 500 gente de razon. 21 The only other brief comments Morrell made had 
to do with his estimation that the ten guns he saw at the Castillo would be sufficient "to 
command the passage were the works kept in any kind of order." As usual, they were not. 
The American also stated in passing, the Presidio of San Francisco resembled Monterey with 
a ten-foot-high wall "built of freestone" surrounding the compound, the houses, and 
church. 22 

Some eight years after Morrell's visit, another observer from the United States described the 
Presidio as a series of "low buildings, with dark tile roofs, resembling prisons more than 
dwelling houses, and the residence of the Commandant was the most conspicuous amongst 
them." He noted the general state of ruin and the presence of, "a few framed houses scattered 
about outside the square...." 23 

These frame structures may have been built by Russians from Fort Ross. One old resident 
mentioned Teresa Villela de Higuera had a home provided by Russian carpenters, but where, 
when, and why the structure had been completed remains a mystery. About 1831, Francisco 
Sanchez also supposedly resided about 200 varus from the post as the nearest resident, 
possibly at a location near the road to Mission Dolores and toward the southeast of the 
Presidio between today's Funston and MacArthur. 24 

El Polin Springs also seemed to attract the Miramontes family who lived, "about three- 
quarters of a mile southeast from the barracks...." Local legend had it that the waters, 



19. The preceding information and quotations were taken from James R. Gibson, trans, and ed., "California in 1824 
by Dimitri Zavalishin," LV Southern California Quarterly no. 4 (Winter 1973): 378-79. 

20. For a complete translation of this document, which clarified the immediate lands under direct control of 
presidial commanders, see William Carey Jones, Land Titles in California: Reports on the Subject of Land Titles.... 
(Washington, D.C.: Gideon & Co., 1850), 53-54. 

21. W. W. Robinson, Land in California (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1948), 36, cites this figure 
and links it with the establishment of the common council or ayuntamiento established in 1834 that brought about 
the official recognition of the Presidio as a pueblo under the Mexican government. 



22. Benjamin W. Morrell, Narrative of Four Voyages to the South Pacific Ocean (New York, N.Y.: J & J Harper, 1832), 
210-12. 

23. Alfred Robinson, Life in California (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Peregrine Press, 1970), 40. 

24. G. W. Hendry and J. N. Bowman, "The Spanish and Mexican Adobes and Other Buildings in the Nine San 
Francisco Bay Counties 1776 to about 1850," vol. IX, 1156-57 (MS, University of California, Berkeley, Calif., 1940). 

109 



"possessed the remarkable power of producing fecundity in women who were childless, and 
who partook of the waters.... In proof it may be mentioned that the Miramontes family, living 
on the spot, had twenty children...." 25 Perhaps the large size of the family accounts for the 
fact that supposedly two structures existed at this locale, although it is possible that the 
family of Juana Briones and Apolonario Miranda also resided at this site for a time before 
taking up residence at Ojo de Agua de Figueroa, a grant which partially crossed the present 
Presidio boundary around Green and Lyon. It seems the structures of this "homestead were 
located off the present reservation. A dam had been built south of the El Polin structures. 26 

On November 6, 1826, Royal Navy officer Captain Frederick William Beechey anchored his 
ship, H. M. S. Blossom, at San Francisco. As soon as he anchored, Beechey visited the 
comandante, Don Ignacio Martinez, finding the officer living in an "abode in a corner of the 
presidio" which formed one end of the row while the chapel occupied the other end. His 
Majesty's sailor found "the opposite side was broken down, and little better than a heap of 
rubbish and bones, on which jackals [coyotes?], dogs, and vultures were constantly preying; 
and the other two sides of the quadrangle contained storehouses, artificer's shops, and the 
gaol, all built in the humblest style with badly burnt bricks, and roofed with tiles." Beechey 
concluded: 

Whether viewed at a distance or near, the establishment impresses a spectator with 
any other sentiment than that of it being a place of authority; and but for a tottering 
flag-staff, upon which was occasionally displayed the tri-coloured flag of Mexico, 
three rusty field pieces, and a half accoutred sentinel parading the gateway in charge 
of a few poor wretches heavily shackled, a visitor would be ignorant of the 
importance of the place. The neglect of the government to its establishments could 
not be more thoroughly evinced than in the dilapidated condition of the building in 
question; and such was the dissatisfaction of the people that there was no inclination 
to improve their situation or even to remedy many of the evils which they appeared 
to us to have the power to remove. 27 

During the several weeks he remained in harbor (the British did not depart until December 
28), Beechey had ample opportunity to make other observations about the area. He contended 
that the defense works at the entrance to the harbor mounted nine cannon. The fort rested 
upon a precipice that gradually, rock by rock, was falling into the ocean. He lamented that 



25. William Heath Davis, Seventy-Five Years in California (San Francisco, Calif.: John Howell, 1928), 54-55 and 
Francisco Sanchez, "Pioneer Sketches," 16-17, Bancroft Reference Notes, Inter File, San Francisco (Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley, Calif.). 

26. For further details consult Hendry and Bowman, "Spanish and Mexican Adobes," 1145-1158. This study also 
notes the presence of adobes to the west of the quadrangle as indicated by sources from U.S. military records of 
the 19th century and into the early 20th century. The authors did not indicate the placement of the casemate but 
noted the presence of a corral in the 1816 artwork by Choris to the northwest of the quadrangle. Ibid., 1159-1161. 
The same Choris image depicts gardens to the northeast and the rear of the quadrangle while the 1776 first plan 
of the post showed a corral to the rear (south) of the first palisade's construction. 

27. Beechey, An Account of a Visit, 3-8. On a second trip, in 1827, Beechey wrote, "San Francisco had undergone 
no visible change except that the presidio had suffered from the shock of an earthquake on the 22d of April...." 
Ibid., 74. Another commentator of 1827 mentioned that after sailing into the harbor he and his shipmates found 
themselves "opposite a cluster of houses which all of us took for a farm; but on examining them more closely,... 
I recognized the presidio." A. Duhaut-Cilly, Voyage autour du monde, principalement a la California et aux lies 
Sandwich, pendant annees 1826, 1827, 1828, et 1829 (Paris: Chez Arthur Bertrand libraire, 1834), 140. 

110 



such a magnificent harbor, which could "contain all the British navy" appeared "in such a 
state of neglect." Once he had the opportunity to come ashore and pass many days on 
horseback in the region, Beechey could describe, with admiration and not a little envy, a land 
"diversified with hill and dale, partly wooded and partly disposed in pasture lands of the 
richest kind, abounding in herds of cattle" and contrasted the natural beauty and potential 
with the Spanish-speaking settlement, " a sickly column of smoke rising from within some 
dilapidated walls, misnamed the presidio or protection...." 

Not only did the appearance of the outpost bespeak of the long-standing tradition of neglect 
but, also, the troops themselves seemed wanting for the very basics from their masters in 
Mexico. Beechey noted this fact in his description of a soldado of the era: 

His dress consisted of a round, blue-cloth jacket, with red cuffs and collar; blue- 
velvet breeches, which being unbuttoned at the knees, gave greater display to a pair 
of white cotton stockings, cased more than half the way in a pair of deerskin shoes; 
a black hat, as broad in the brim as it was disproportionately low in the crown, kept 
in order by its own weight; a profusion of dark hair, which met behind and dangled 
half-way down the back, in the form of a thick cue. A long musket, with a fox-skin 
band around the lock, was balanced upon the pommel of his saddle, and he was 
further provided with defense against Indians with a bull's hide shield, on which 
was emblazoned the royal arms of Spain, and, by a double-fold of deerskin, carried 
as a covering over his body. Thus accoutred, he bestrode a saddle, which retained 
him in his seat by a high pommel in front, and a corresponding rise behind. His feet 
were armed at the heels with a tremendous pair of spurs, secured by a metal chain, 
and were thrust through an enormous pair of wooden box-shaped stirrups. 28 - 

Despite the fact that Mexico had governed California for some three years, the presidial 
depicted by Captain Beechey could have ridden with Anza in the previous century! The 
troops retained their old issue arms, equipment, and uniforms, from the days of the Spanish 
regime since no replacements came from the central government. Additionally, more than a 
decade passed before Mexico would make a drastic departure from the old regulations 
promulgated by Spain in 1772. By that time, the few remaining men at the Presidio of San 



28. Beechey, An Account of a Visit, 15-16. 

Ill 



Figure 20. An 1839 map by Smith Elder of London, possibly based on Beechey's 1829 map, 
indicated the Presidio, the fort (castillo), roads, and a pair of outbuildings toward El Polin 
Spring. Alexander Forbes, California. Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, Los Angeles, 
Calif. 

Another depiction from Captain Frederick Beechey's expedition was provided by Richard 
Brydges Beechey, who served as a midshipman and artist with his brother. In 1826, he 
rendered a watercolor that called up a romantic pastoral image. The ship Blossom rides at 
anchor and an oversized Mexican tri-color floats aloft in the middle of what was once the 
plaza. No chapel can be seen on the south side nor do protective walls enclose the south side, 
although a building situated approximately at the site of the present Officers Club stands 
alone there. On the east side appear two or three structures and the crumbling remains of the 
wall. The west and north sides seem to be complete. A crude corral of pickets can be seen on 
the plain below what was the main gate. A road runs from where the chapel once stood, 
presumably going to Mission San Francisco. The men in the foreground look the part of 
vaqueros more than soldiers. The bovine creatures depicted resemble English short-horn cows 
rather than the Spanish long-horn cattle. They may be milk cows, however, which partially 
could account for this digression. Thicker trees and vegetation, particularly as the land rolls 
toward the beach, characterized this work, and may have represented more artistic license 
than reality, although Captain Beechey's narrative discussed the topic. Indeed, the overall 
treatment tends to follow written descriptions of the Presidio during the Mexican period of 
occupation and resembles Choris's 1816 painting. A color copy of this work can be seen in 
Jeanne Van Norstrand, San Francisco, 1806-1906 In Contemporary Paintings, Drawings and 
Watercolors (San Francisco, Calif.: The Book Club of California, 1975) Plate 6. 



112 



\- \ II 




113 




Figure 21. Looking far from the northeast toward the Presidio and the Golden Gate, Captain 
W. Smyth of the Royal Navy gave a less detailed perspective of the post than his shipmate 
Richard Beechey. His rendition, however, paralleled the other 1826 view in that the 
quadrangle was not enclosed on all sides. Further, Smyth portrayed the anchorage as having 
moved toward Yerba Buena Cove and gave a sense of the contour of the Cantil Blanco as it 
appeared when the Castillo topped its heights prior to demolition in the early 1850s to make 
way for the fort at Fort Point. Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. 



114 



Francisco probably did not adopt the latest military fashion, which for the most part 
resembled the old styles. 29 

In certain instances, commanders at San Francisco would have been pleased even with 
outmoded items or worn-out stock rather than do without such much needed equipment as 
saddles. During the same year Beechey arrived, the troops required 50 saddles, since most of 
the company went about bareback in the performance of their duties. 30 An appeal to the 
padre at Mission Dolores for saddles failed to bring relief. The priest simply responded that 
the Presidio should close if the post could not maintain itself. In reply, the comandante 
requested that his superiors in Monterey authorize seizure of these items. Word from the 
governor denying this action closed the issue for the moment, although the deep-seated rift 
between the military and religious authorities grew with the passage of years and culminated 
in the secularization of the mission lands starting in the next decade. 31 

The disarray and discontent, so obvious to Beechey and other visitors, had not been missed 
by the Mexican government either, but the measures they were willing to take to improve 
defenses in their California outposts amounted to little more than rhetorical proclamations. 
The arrival of a new governor, Jose Maria Encheandia, and some reinforcements in the form 
of a 40-man infantry unit known as the Fijo del Hidalgo, bound for Monterey, caused ill will 
rather than increasing a sense of martial preparedness among the Californios who 
increasingly saw themselves as a people apart from the central republic. 32 An 1827 order 
from Mexico called for the construction of a guardhouse and barracks at Yerba Buena, east 
of the main San Francisco fort. No funds were provided, and the Yerba Buena landing 
remained unprotected. In 1828, the 10-man Junta de Fomento, a special council with wide- 
ranging duties at the federal level in Mexico City, called for the general strengthening of 



29. By 1839,according to John Nicolas Brown, Josef Hefter, and Angelina Nieto, El Soldado Mexicano 1837-1847 
(Mexico City, DF: Editions Nieto-Brown-Hefter, 1958), 65, Mexican regulations prescribed two uniforms for the 
California companies. The first was, "a garrison dress with dark blue wool tailcoat, green collar and cuffs, deep 
red lapels and cuff bars, white piping, dark blue pants with deep red stripes, an ornamented shako..., and the 
initials AC [for Alta California] ... embroidered on the collar." For a field uniform, the specifications called for, "a 
dark blue round jacket with deep red collar and cuffs, grey side-buttoned chaparral pants over boots, a cowman's 
saddle and shabrak [horse cloth for under the saddle], round hat with white band and a dark blue cape." 

According to a British observer of the late 1830s, uniforms were anything but consistent on the northern frontier. 
Vallejo, having relocated most of the Presidio of San Francisco's troops to Sonoma just a few years previously 
formed an infantry company to supplement the cavalrymen. This former group consisted of a baker's dozen, and 
"if one may judge from the variety of uniforms, each of the thirteen warriors constitutes his own regiment, one 
being the 'Blue,' another the 'Buffs,' and so on...." The only commonality among the lot was that every one of them 
seemed to sport "an enormous sword, a pair of nascent mostachios, deerskin boots, and that everlasting serape 
or blanket with a hole in the middle of it for the head." Sir George Simpson, Narrative of A Voyage to California Ports 
... Together With Voyage to Sitka, the Sandwich Islands, & Okhotsk (San Francisco, Calif.: The Private Press of Thomas 
Russell, 1930), 68-69. 

30. Zephyrin Englehardt, San Francisco or Mission Dolores (Chicago, 111.: Franciscan Herald Press, 1924), 185-86. 

31. Daniel J. Garr, "Power and Priorities: Church-State Boundary Disputes in Spanish-California," LVII California 
Historical Quarterly no. 4 (Winter 1978-1979): 364-75 provides useful background to a situation that finally came 
to a head under the Mexican regime. Other reasons for secularization besides the problem between military and 
religious authorities were the growth of the anticlerical movement in Mexico; ideological opposition to forced labor 
of Indians; increased interest by civilians in obtaining churches and their transfer to private hands. 

32. Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 13. 

115 



defenses, a military academy, and a naval force that was to be stationed in the San Francisco 
Bay Area. 33 Nothing came of these grandiose schemes, except the arrival, a few months later, 
of a handful of cavalrymen. In April 1829, the Mexican authorities distributed the General 
Spanish Regulations for Artillery Militia to all California presidios. By May, the populace was 
supposed to be organized and schooled in the intricacies of artillery operations. The truth of 
the matter was that training never took place. Once again, Mexico City provided no money. 
Moreover, out of a total of 24,000 weapons distributed at the time by the central government, 
California received only 320 to arm their 4,200 citizens. 

Also, in 1829, Mexico's Congress enacted a new law providing for six companies of 76 men 
and four officers apiece to be stationed along the California coast. 34 This lack of support for 
legislation, in turn, came to nothing when men, well aware of Mexico's frontier soldiers, 
declined to enlist. 35 Nonetheless, the dwindling number of soldiers continued to perform 
their traditional duties, including carrying out forays against Indians who resisted domination 
under the Mexican regime, just as they had under Spain. 36 

Meanwhile, troops at Monterey, joined by some mission detachments, refused further service 
in the military unless they received their pay. An officer managed to quiet the dissidents 
before the affair exploded into outright mutiny. Similar rumblings may have reached San 
Francisco about the same time. These tremors represented only the first signs of trouble. 
Discontent continued throughout the year. Troops blamed Echeandia, the comandante general 
at Monterey, for all their problems; moreover, the officers at Monterey and San Francisco 
probably shared the soldiers' point of view. 37 Many among them, tired of the bad situation, 
began increasingly to believe they would fare better on their own. 

Finally, in November, with California's governor temporarily in the south, the situation 
exploded. Joaquin Solis, who had been sent to California with a 10-year sentence for offenses 
in Mexico, led the rebellion. Together with a group of soldiers at Monterey, Solis seized 
principal officials at that presidio, and demanded not only back pay and back rations but the 
removal of both the governor and the new comandante general. The rebels then moved to San 
Francisco, arriving November 15, where support among the common soldiers overwhelmed 
the opposition of the officers. The Presidio of San Francisco surrendered, and Martinez was 
dismissed from his post as comandante?* 



33. Ibid., 35-36. 

34. Ibid., vol. Ill, 67-68. 

35. In 1829, the Presidio of San Francisco's commander unsuccessfully attempted to obtain recruits from San Jose, 
stipulating that men coming into the ranks, "must be well disposed, to be capable of duty; not publicly known 
as thieves nor habitual drunkards." Comandante of Presidio of San Francisco to Alcalde of San Jose, June 2, 1829, 
San Jose Archives, III, 11, Bancroft Reference Notes, California Military, Presidios, 1821-1830. 

36. For an account of one such expedition related to the San Jose and Santa Clara missions see Joaquin Pena, 
"Quaderno de las Novedades locurrados [dialriamente de la Expedition que marcha a las [orjdenes del Sub- 
teniente de Cavall[eri]a a [M. Gujdalupe Vallejo, y da principio el 19 Mayo de 1829." (MS, Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley, Calif.). 

37. Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 674-75. 

38. Ibid., 75. 

116 



Soils now approached Argiiello and asked him to take command of the force. No doubt 
guessing the outcome of the rebellion, Argiiello shrewdly refused the dubious honor. The 
rebels then moved against the Presidio of Santa Barbara. Governor Echeandia, on his way 
north from San Diego with a punitive force, also headed for Santa Barbara. The two groups 
met at San Miguel in a short, comic-opera engagement. After a series of semitheatrical forays, 
the rebels scattered and soon disbanded. The ill-fated rebellion came to an end after New 
Year's Day of 1830. In the brief investigation and trial that followed, 16 of the major 
conspirators were sentenced to deportation, and California returned to its doldrums under 
the old lackadaisical regime. 39 

Governor Echeandia's successor, Colonel Manuel Victoria, seemed to sense the new 
unwillingness to accept the poor conditions of Mexican rule. In March of 1830, in his first 
official act, he issued a document addressed to his "beloved fellow citizens." He assured them 
of improvements and stated that "the laws must be executed, the government obeyed, and 
our institutions respected," if reforms were to be successful. 40 During his short term in office, 
Victoria travelled on inspections throughout the territory and, by some accounts, visited San 
Francisco. 41 Yet, once again, great expectations ended in unfulfilled promises. Victoria 
succeeded in little more than the maintenance of the status quo. He failed to convene the 
disputation, a representative assembly for California, without which California was little more 
than a military comandancia. At a time when the ideas of republicanism began to seep into 
California both from Mexico and the United States, Victoria's action was not well-received, 
and he accomplished little during his tenure in office. 

In the meantime, the troop strength in California continued to decline. The company at the 
Presidio of San Francisco dwindled to fewer than 50 men. Within the next four years, this 
number dropped to 30. 42 The new commander of the presidio, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, 
asked for replacements without expecting much success in recruitment. 43 He also reported 
the ruinous state of the Presidio buildings and eventually received permission to save what 
he could of the standing equipment. Among the eight iron guns, including three 24-pounders, 
and eight brass pieces, six were deemed useless. Vallejo, in desperation, requested permission 
to appraise the best buildings at the post in order either to turn them over to the men as 
partial restitution for back pay or to purchase cattle for the men and their families. By this 



39. Bancroft, History of California, Vol. Ill, 68-86. 



40. Manuel Victoria, "Manifestation del Gefe Politico de la Alta California a sus habitantes, 1831," (MS, Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.). 

41. Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 186. 

42. Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 700. 

43. Earlier in the decade, Governor Luis Argiiello sought 25 recruits from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to 
replenish the ranks. He hoped for volunteers but would take available vagrants and unmarried men drawn by 
lot if he had to do so. He also wanted a report "on all vagrants and evil-disposed persons, that the men might be 
set to work at 18 cents per day on the fortifications." Bancroft, History of California, vol. II, 673. Supposedly, many 
years later, some young men went to the altar to avoid being drafted into the Mexican forces, since only bachelors 
were subject conscription in the late 1830s. Similarly, a reputed underground network also kept families informed 
when details approached to take away their younger, unmarried sons. With advance warning, a pre-arranged plan 
went into effect and the would-be recruits would go into hiding for the time being. William Heath Davis, Seventy- 
Five Years in California (San Francisco, Calif.: John Howell, 1928), 161-62. 

117 



time, the government owed the troops 5,100 pesos for 1833-1834 alone. This figure rose to 
30,000 pesos, by 1837. 44 

In Mexico City, political instability and factional battling or power hindered the solution of 
urgent financial problems. In late 1832, the central government named Jose Figueroa as 
California's new political chief. Arriving in mid-January of 1833, Figueroa carried instructions 
to restore tranquility throughout the territory; to inspire renewed confidence in the national 
government; to maintain a careful watch over the Russian and American activities along the 
coast, and to move toward the secularization of the missions. The latter requirement called 
for the division of mission lands into self-supporting ranchos and the replacement of the 
Franciscan missionaries by regular or parish priests. To assist Figueroa in attaining these 
objectives, Mexico City provided him with a force of 75 officers and men. 45 

In April 1833, Figueroa ordered Vallejo in San Francisco to survey the area north of the bay 
with an eye to the establishment of another outpost. Figueroa's attention again turned to 
Vallejo in October when a minor revolt took place in the district. A few soldiers, disgruntled 
at alleged mistreatment, attempted to depose their commander. Enraged at the mutineers, 
Vallejo demanded severe punishment. Nevertheless, a court-martial resulted only in the 
transfer of the conspirators to other presidios. 

In 1834, Vallejo moved part of San Francisco's garrison to Sonoma after severe storm damage 
dictated another rebuilding, which never occurred because of lack of funds. Rains caused 
deterioration at the Presidio and near destruction of much of the castillo. 46 Toward the end 
of the year, Vallejo recommended that the unrepairable conditions made it desirable to sell 
off what could be salvaged at the Presidio to private individuals in order to obtain some back 
pay for the troops. The Presidio's stock could be transferred to Sonoma to start a national 
ranch there. 47 The governor agreed to the relocation and the scheme to sell portions of the 
Presidio so long as a part of the reservation remained for a barracks to lodge troops. 48 

By 1835, Vallejo had transported not only the last of the San Francisco garrison but also his 
own family, to the new northern outpost. Soon, the Presidio of San Francisco declined to a 
caretaker status. 49 



44. Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 701. 

45. Ibid., 248. 



46. M. Vallejo to Comandante General, San Francisco, May 3, 1834, Archives of California, Department State Papers, 
Binecia Military, LXXVII, 5-6. 

47. M. Vallejo to Governor Figueroa, San Francisco, November 11, 1834, Vallejo Documents, XXXI, 133, Bancroft 
Reference Notes, California Military, Presidios, San Francisco, 1831-1840. 

48. Governor Figueroa to Presidio of San Francisco, Monterey, September 20, 1834, Vallejo Documents, III, 129, 
Bancroft Reference Notes, San Francisco 1776-. 

49. The post must have been maintained well into the year, however, since on December 27, 1835, Vallejo was 
present in the Bay Area and, "spoke English very well" while visiting with an American ship leaving the port. 
Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative (Boston, Mass.: James R. Osgood and 
Company, 1872), 270. 



118 



Movement to the north coincided with the establishment of the pueblo of Yerba Buena, with 
some of the military families moving into the new settlement that was destined to become 
the City of San Francisco. For a while the Presidio continued to exist and, according to one 
source, flourished in these last days. A newly arrived Yankee claimed the post's "inhabitants 
... were well supplied with everything. There were several hundred cattle roaming the hills, 
besides sheep and horses." The people dined on beef, elk, deer, and bear. They had wine, 
brandy, and aguardiente to drink aplenty, "and as a result the inhabitants lived on the fat of 
the land." Indians performed the drudge work, according to this reminiscence. This allowed 
the remaining garrison to pass its time "in riding, racing and daring feats of horsemanship." 
They also danced to the strains of the guitar or gambled, with monte being "the craze in every 
household." Fond of amusement and fiestas, "the early settlers of California entertained like 
princes and were lavish with their hospitality." Thus, the informant recalled the Presidio as 
"a paradise and nothing marred their haven of delight until the march of civilization reached 
the shores of the mighty Pacific." Only one note of this narrative spoiled the perfect picture 
since the Presidio "was not maintained in a very effective condition, as the cannon were rusty 
and covered with mold...." 50 In truth, the post's fall into ruin accelerated in the 1830s. In 1834 
the presidial-pueblo of Yerba Buena was set up with a six-man district council and an alcalde, 
the latter position being assumed by one of the San Bias Infantrymen, Francisco de Haro. 
With this, the anchorage also moved to Yerba Buena as did some of the population who 
began to strip the main garrison and the castillo as well of what little useful building materials 
they could find. 51 

As circumstances changed in San Francisco, the undisguised interest of the United States in 
the California territory added a troublesome new dimension to the long-standing problems 
of Mexico's California outposts. In August of that year, the United States charge d'affaires in 
Mexico City approached the central government with an offer to buy the San Francisco Bay 
Area for $5,000,000. The Americans wanted the harbor to serve as a home base for American 
whalers in the Pacific. Mexican authorities gave consideration to accepting the offer, but 
British diplomats finally convinced them to hold onto the territory. 52 

However, the situation in San Francisco over the next six years showed little sign of any 
increase in attention on the part of Mexico, although Vallejo evidently left a detachment of 



The establishment of the pueblo in late 1834 and the relocation of the larger part of the garrison led to the decline 
of the Presidio's importance in relation to the civilian port and Mission Dolores, where the local detachment 
commander moved his office and residence by the 1830s, as well as the records of the pueblo council. At this 
point, "the Presidio ceased to be a factor of consequence and the urban history in this area centered in the port 
and in the Mission." Hendry and Bowman, "Spanish and Mexican Adobes," 1188. 

50. "Reminiscences of Charles Lauff from the files of The Independent of San Rafael Jan. 25, 1916 to May 23, 1916," 
(typescript, Marin County Historical Society, San Rafael, Calif.), 2; 24-26. Lauff, a native of Strasbourg, France, was 
born on February 22, 1818. He came to the United States with his widowed mother around 1823. A dozen years 
later, he went to sea on the bark Byron. After a shipwreck, another craft bound for Sitka, Alaska, picked him up 
in South America and carried him to San Francisco. He remained in the Bay Area for the rest of his long life. At 
98 years of age, he told his story to the local newspaper, although much of what he had to say seemed clouded 
or distorted by the passage of time. His description of the Presidio of San Francisco, in the 1830s, seems unreliable 
as little of what he remembered squared with contemporary accounts. 

51. Workers of the Writers' Program of the Works Project Administration, comp., "The Army at the Golden Gate: 
A Guide to Military Posts in the San Francisco Bay Area," (MS, San Francisco, Calif.: c. 1942), 45-46. 

52. Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 400. 

119 



six artillerymen under Juan Prado Mesa to maintain a token presence at the reservation when 
the main force relocated to Sonoma. 53 By late 1839, that number fell even further, to only 
three men, who may have deserted, thereby leaving the place unmanned for a short period. 54 
While the population of California had increased fourfold over the previous decade, and by 
1840, more than 1,330 gente de razon lived in the district between San Jose and Sonoma, few 
could be induced to join the military, and those who retired from the military to take up life 
at ranches or civilian settlements seemed to outnumber replacements. 

Coastal fortifications, originally built to protect this population, had meanwhile all but 
disappeared. The artillery stood unused and uncared for, although Vallejo recommended the 
Castillo's rebuilding in the early 1840s, along with the construction of a jail, customhouse, and 
a wharf. Likewise, Vallejo called for 200 more soldiers to be sent to California under 
competent officers. 55 As it was, in San Francisco, only one artilleryman remained to man the 
last six cannons, since Vallejo had ordered the relocation of several of the serviceable guns 
to Sonoma. 56 

Foreign visitors remained unanimous in their descriptions of the state of complete and 
unrelieved neglect of military establishments throughout Alta California in general and at the 
San Francisco Presidio in particular. In the late 1830s, one Englishman summarized, "Any 
foreign power if disposed to take possession of California could easily do so." Continuing, the 
astute British commentator indicated that the 100,000 dollars required to operate the 
government in the territory fell beyond Mexico's ability to pay and, "Instead of money, 



53. WPA, "Army at the Golden Gate," 46. 

54. Bancroft Reference Notes, California Military, Presidios, San Francisco, 1831-1840. 

55. Bancroft, History of California, vol. IV, 204-205. Previously, in early 1839, Vallejo reported the gun mounts at 
the castillo remained serviceable but were not located in the right place. He found the seas undermining the walls 
and suggested that the guns ought to be sent to a more advantageous position such as Angel Island. February 6, 
1839, Vallejo Documents, VI, 217, Bancroft Reference Notes, California Military, Presidios, San Francisco, 1831-1840. 

56. By 1841, only 24 artillerymen remained in all of Alta California and they had charge of 43 serviceable pieces 
along the coast, along with 17 useless guns. Bancroft, History of California, vol. IV, 197-98; 701 n. Just 11 years 
earlier, the ordnance inventory consisted of 54 cannon, three of 24 pounds; two of 12 pounds; 18 of 8 pounds; 19 
of 6 pounds; 11 of 4 pounds; and one of 3 pounds. Twenty-three of the guns were brass and 31 iron. Ibid., vol. 
II, 673. An early 1840s description of the barbette battery at Monterey (El Castillo) indicated that, 'The defense 
consists of 2 useless brass pieces, a brass falconet, 2 twelve-pounders, a sixteen-pound[er] gun mounted on half- 
rotten gun carriages, and 2 pieces of eight, mounted on cart wheels." Additionally, "these and those at San Diego 
and Santa Barbara, were cast in bronze in Peru or Manila, and bear the insignia of Spain with the inscription Real 
Audiencia de Lima o de Filipinas." Marguerite Eyer Wilbur, ed., and trans., Duflot De Mofras' Travels on the Pacific 
Coast vol. I (Santa Ana, Calif.: The Fine Arts Press, 1937), 212. 

According to a later report, Sonoma had nine brass guns including two 8-pounders, two 4-pounders, four 3- 
pounders, and one 2 1/2 conical gun. There was also one iron gun of the same type and caliber. J. Pena, Sonoma, 
March 24, 1839, Vallejo Documents, XXV, 63, Bancroft Reference Notes, California Military, Presidios, San 
Francisco, 1831-1840. Another source noted that of the six guns mounted at Sonoma, three had been purchased 
by Vallejo with his own funds. General Vallejo to President Bustamante, Sonoma, May 10, 1839, Vallejo 
Documents, VII, 37, ibid. When the "Bear Flag" Revolt broke out the rebels found eight cannon and 250 stands of 
arms at Sonoma. Oscar Lewis, ed., California in 1846 (San Francisco, Calif.: Grabhorn Press, 1934), 32. 

120 



military officers and policemen are sent with reams of laws and orders to repair the system 
... leaving as heretofore the soldiers in rags and the employees without pay...." 57 

More to the point, in 1840, one Yankee found the Castillo in ruins, its guns corroding, and "one 
side of its walls tumbled down, and another strongly disposed to plunge into the sea, and not 
the tenth of a soldier's heart beating for a hundred miles around...." The Presidio itself 
consisted of the commandant's "respectable whitewashed pile of mud and bricks" in one 
corner and a chapel at the other corner "on the same side." Artificers' shops and a prison 
completed the few remaining structures as the two other sides of the quadrangle had "broken 
down, not by flying metal of brave conflict, but by gentle battering of the rains; the ruins 
covered with bones! not the bones of fearless men...; but the bones of beeves that have been 
gnawed by the garrison...." 58 

While less caustic, a French visitor of 1841 substantiated the American's overall view of the 
military establishments in the Bay Area, finding much to his surprise that, "the fort [the 
castillo] has been so completely abandoned that a ship could easily send its small boats over 
the shore below, and without attracting attention of the presidio, carry off the cannon that 
could be rolled down the cliff." He further described the decaying gun carriages and ruined 
barracks. 59 This individual, Duflot de Mofras, noted, "The presidio of San Francisco is falling 
into decay, is entirely dismantled, and is inhabited by only a sub-lieutenant and 5 soldier 
rancheros with their families." He described the surrounding land as being sand dunes 
covered with brush. Further, he stated that the castillo consisted of a horseshoe-shaped adobe 
battery with 16 embrasures for cannon. Only three obsolete guns and two "good bronze pieces 
of 16 caliber [pounders], cast in Manila were in place, all "on wooden gun carriages which 
date from 1812 and are partially decayed. In the center of the horseshoe, the barracks, used 
originally to house the soldiers, have fallen into ruins...." No one lived there nor did a ditch 
or other protection to the rear exist to keep the place from being overtaken from the side 
should the battery be manned. 

In 1841, Sir George Simpson, an Englishman, wrote of the castillo as, "dismantled and 
dilapidated ... crumbling into the undermining tide beneath." Nearby, he spied "a square of 
huts, distinguished by the lofty title of 'Presidio of San Francisco' and tenanted ~ for 
garrisoned it is not - by a commandant and as many soldiers as might, if all told, muster the 
rank and file of a corporal's party...." 60 The same year, a United States naval officer recorded 
that "after passing through the entrance, we were scarcely able to distinguish the Presidio; 
and, had it not been for its solitary flagstaff, we could not have ascertained its situation. From 
this staff no flag floated; the buildings were deserted, the walls had fallen to decay, the guns 



57. Alexander Forbes, California: A History of Upper and Lower California from Their First Discovery to the Present Time 
(London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1839), 147; 307-308. 

58. J. T. Farnham, Life, Adventures, and Travels in California (New York, N.Y.: Sheldon, Lamport, and Blakeman, 
1855), 352-53. This so-called firsthand account, however, seems very close to Beechey's earlier published depiction. 
Therefore, Farnham's writing may represent plagiarism more than an original description. 

59. Wilbur, Duflot de Mofras' Travels on the Pacific Coast, vol. I, 228-29. 

60. Simpson, Narrative of a Voyage, 87. 

121 




sc/irrsxconc -£&& 



Figure 22. In 1843, Swedish visitor G. M. Waseurtz af Sandels, who referred to himself as 
"The King's Orphan," made two crude illustrations of "The Military Barracks of Sn. Francisco 
in California" and an "Original Pencil Sketch of the Fort and Port of San Francisco in 
California." These pictures differ little from those made by members of the Beechey party 
nearly twenty years earlier. An irregular assembly of adobes forms only portions of three 
sides of "the barracks," with some of these being located outside of the boundaries of the old 
quadrangle, particularly one structure at the northwest corner. No flag flies from the staff, 
indicating that the place probably was deserted. A flag was evident at the fort (castillo), 
however, at the port's entrance. The originals are in the Society of California Pioneers, San 
Francisco, Calif. An engraver by the name of Scattergood based this stylized and embellished 
view of the Presidio on "a sketch by the 'King's Orphan.'" While quaint, it offers nothing new 
of substance to an understanding of the Presidio during its final years under Mexican rule, 
as it chiefly replicates the Swedish physician's sketches. California Room, State Library, 
Sacramento, Calif. 



122 



were dismounted, and everything around it lay in quiet." 61 With internal strife and 
factionalism throughout the province and lack of resources from Mexico, the riches and 
attractions of San Francisco stood ripe for the taking. It seemed only a question of time before 
Mexican rule came to its long-anticipated end. Yet the next two years, 1841 and 1842, brought 
major changes that seemed at first blush to work to Mexico's advantage. To begin with, at 
last, the Russians withdrew from Fort Ross in 1841. 62 A drastic decline in the otter 
population, which brought with it a general falling-off in trade, had accomplished what no 
amount of threatening and posturing by the Spanish and Mexican officials could achieve. To 
top off this changing situation, Mexico City sent a new man with a full complement of 
soldiers to the north. Brigadier General Manuel Micheltorena originally had intended to 
march into California at the head of a battalion of disciplined and freshly uniformed men. 
Instead, the need for troops elsewhere in the Republic left him with a makeshift unit of 
vagrants, profligates, and penitentiary inmates. Not surprisingly, Micheltorena's arrival in San 
Diego in 1842 was greeted not with gratitude or fanfare but with outrage and increasing 
unrest. 63 

Mexico's repeated neglect and mismanagement of California affairs represented more than 
just the continuity of Spain's neglectful tradition. California in these years of Mexican rule 
acted as a mirror, faithfully reflecting back all the chaos, lack of direction, and serious political 
instability that characterized Mexico itself. At the Presidio of San Francisco, the Mexican 
presence, which had never been vigorous, finally slipped away almost entirely. The deserted 
Castillo, the unmanned artillery, the forlorn cluster of huts called barracks which housed at 
best a token garrison, from the late 1830s onward, revealed that Mexico had neither the 
treasure nor the troops to guard the Golden Gate. That country's inability to protect the 
harbor offered an open invitation to foreign seizure. A reply was not long in coming. 



61. Charles Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 
(Philadelphia, Pa.: Lea and Blanchard, 1845), vol. V, 152-53. A Swedish physician who came not long after Wilkes 
saw the ruins of the old castillo and also made two sketches of the Presidio that showed only a few structures 
along the south and west side by this time. The original manuscript and illustrations are in the Society of 
California Pioneers in San Francisco, and one of the depictions appears with the reprint of the original diary 
account in G. M. Waseurtz af Sandels, A Sojourn in California by the King's Orphan: The Travels and Sketches of G. 
M. Waseurtz af Sandels, a Swedish Gentleman who Visited California in 1842-1843 (San Francisco, Calif.: Grabhorn Press 
for the Book Club of California, 1945), 24. 

62. John DuFour, "The Russian Withdrawal from California," XII California Historical Quarterly no. 3 (September 
1933): 240-76 treats this topic. 

63. Amador, "Memorias," 83-85 and Robert Kells, "The Spanish Inheritance: The Mexican Military Forces of Alta 
California," XX journal of the West no. 4 (October 1981): 12-19. 

123 



EPILOGUE 



In October of 1842, Commodore Thomas Ap Catesby Jones of the U.S. Navy sailed into 
Monterey Bay with the Stars and Stripes flying. He landed, and with little further effort, 
claimed Alta California's capital for the United States. Jones acted upon the belief that Mexico 
and the United States were at war. 1 He soon discovered that the nations were in fact at 
peace. In some embarrassment, the brash American apologized, then embarked and sailed 
away. Mexican authorities accepted his explanation without comment. After all, their 
vulnerability to even the most modest invasion had been demonstrated, and they were in no 
position to force a diplomatic or military confrontation. 

Jones's misadventure in the Monterey Bay could not have come as a total surprise. By 1840, 
several nations looked with greedy interest upon an unguarded California. The United States 
was only the most eager among many. Three hundred and eighty foreign males already lived 
in California in that year. A half decade later, that number had nearly doubled. Over the next 
few years, an unsettling mixture of unofficial adventuring, semiofficial maneuvering, official 
scheming, and a startling discovery pulled San Francisco and its Presidio out of the backwater 
of Mexican colonialism into the center of ambitious nation-building. 

The official maneuvering of the United States government began when the administration in 
Washington sent John Slidell to Mexico City in order to reopen the negotiations that had 
broken off in 1835. Slidell offered Mexican leaders as much as $25 million for the California 
territory. Once again, Mexico refused the offer. The United States now tried less open 
channels. 

The administration now considered encouraging a course of history in California that would 
repeat what previously happened in Texas. 2 With this end in mind, they appointed Thomas 
O. Larkin to the post of U.S. consul for California in October of 1843. 3 Although a merchant 
by trade, Larkin handled a multi-faceted career with the skill of a juggler. While conducting 
his business interests and duties as consul, he kept a close watch on every development in 
California. Simultaneously, Larkin managed to balance the British and French competition for 
the area, ensuring that these powers would not gain the upper hand over the Americans. 

Meanwhile, U.S. forces began piece by piece and without official plan to gather in California. 
The U.S. Navy's Pacific squadron hovered along the California coast, ready for whatever 



1 . George M. Brooke, Jr., "The Vest Pocket War of Commodore Jones," XXXI Pacific Historical Review no. 3 (August 
1962): 217-33 summarizes this incident. 

2. Andrew F. Rolle and John S. Gaines, The Golden State: A History of California (Arlington Heights, 111.: AHM 
Publishing Company, 1979, 2d ed.), 94. 

3. Larkin hailed from Massachusetts where he was born at Charlestown in 1802. As a young man, he moved to 
North Carolina where he operated a business. He married Rachel Hobson Holmes in 1833 on board ship off Santa 
Barbara. She would be the first woman from the United States to reside in Alta California and their child, born 
in 1834, the first offspring of U.S. citizens to be born in the region. His business acumen brought him a certain 
degree of respect and led to his appointment as consul general in 1843. He had dealings with many Californios 
which made him a good "confidential agent" for the U.S. government. After the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 
his services to Washington ended. He remained active in land development and other commercial dealings until 
his death in San Francisco, in 1858. Bancroft, History of California, vol. IV, 706-707. 

125 



occurred and keeping an eye on its British counterpart. An even more eager participant in the 
California game was John C. Fremont, a U.S. Army officer who championed manifest destiny. 
Fremont and his well-armed band of civilian "explorers" arrived in California in the mid- 
18405, much to the dismay of Mexican authorities and the approval of Larkin. 4 Underlying 
the uneasy balance of the Mexican and American forces was a coded communique from 
Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft to the Pacific squadron, which read, "If you ascertain 
with certainty that Mexico has declared war against the United States you will possess 
yourself of the port of San Francisco and blockade or occupy such other ports as your force 
may permit." 5 If Fremont received these orders or similar orders, they must have come as 
verbal instruction through U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Archibald Gillespie who journeyed 
across the continent to meet Fremont. 6 In any case, when the time came, he did not lurk in 
the background. 

In the summer of 1846, the diverse elements working for change in California began to 
coalesce. Early in the summer, the frigate Portsmouth arrived in San Francisco Bay. With his 
ship lying at anchor off Sausalito, the ship's captain, Jonathan B. Montgomery, received 
momentous news from the north. On June 14, 1846, nearly 30 men under the leadership of 
William B. Ide and Ezekiel Merritt had raised aloft the famed "Bear Flag" at Sonoma 
Barracks. 7 Fremont and party had by now joined the rebels and informed Comandante Vallejo 
through his brother-in-law, an American by the name of Jacob Leese, that they acted 
independently and with just cause. 8 The men sought to right the wrongs perpetrated upon 
their lives and honor by Governor Jose Castro. They assured Vallejo that no harm would 
come to him or to the other prisoners. 



4. Numerous works exist on Fremont's controversial life. One of the best of these biographies remains Allan 
Nevins, Fremont, Pathfinder of the West (New York, N.Y.: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1961) 2 vols. 

5. George Bancroft to Commodore Robert Stockton, June 24, 1845 in "Manuscripts, Documents, Letters & C. 
Relating to the Conquest of California," MS in the California Historical Society Library, San Francisco, Calif., Vault 
MS 57. Hereinafter cited by letter and date. 

6. A native of Pennsylvania, Cillespie crossed Mexico with duplicate dispatches for Larkin, leaving Washington, 
D.C., in October 1845. The next April, the lieutenant arrived at Monterey, aboard the Cyane. He ultimately joined 
Fremont and participated in various military operations during the fight against Mexican forces. After a brief 
return east, he came back to California, remaining there until 1873, when he died at age 60 in San Francisco. 
Bancroft, History of California, vol. Ill, 756. 

7. According to Bancroft, History of California, vol. IV, 688-89, William Brown Ide was born in Massachusetts in 
1786. He made a living variously as a carpenter, farmer, and schoolteacher before coming to California with his 
wife, daughter, and four sons in 1845. After Sonoma fell, Ide assumed command of the Bear Flag party and 
remained in charge until Fremont took command. When California became part of the United States, Ide began 
a brief career as a surveyor, then held a series of county offices. He died in 1852. 

Merritt came to California by 1841, although some references indicate he may have been in the region as early as 
1837. He was a trapper who became active in political intrigues and machinations of the mid-1 840s, culminating 
with his assumption of leadership, for a short period, of the Bear Rag group. After the war, he became partners 
with William C. Moon at a rancho in Tehama, where he died during the winter of 1847-1848. Ibid., 738-39. 

8. Leese was born in Ohio in 1809. During the 1833, he engaged in the Santa Fe trade and, by the next year, was 
conducting business in Los Angeles. He became a naturalized Mexican citizen, although later, he essentially 
became a subagent for Larkin. Pronounced an "intelligent" and "enterprising" man by Bancroft, Leese nevertheless 
probably died in extreme poverty sometime in the 1880s. Bancroft, History of California, vol. IV, 710-11. 

126 



Vallejo wrote in considerable agitation to Montgomery on June 15. First, Vallejo informed the 
Portsmouth's captain that an armed party had seized his fort. Further, he demanded to know 
what, if any, connection existed between the "Bear Flaggers" and Washington. Montgomery 
quickly replied, "I at once disavow this movement as having proceeded under any authority 
of the U.S. or myself.... This is a movement entirely local and with which I have nothing to 
do." 9 

To further allay Vallejo's apprehensions, the captain sent Lieutenant Jonathan Misroon to 
Sonoma to survey the situation. The young subordinate reported that the revolutionaries 
meant no harm to those who did not take up arms against their cause. However, they did 
intend to defend themselves against a counterattack, and Ide went so far as to request 
gunpowder from Montgomery for this purpose. 10 In view of the official neutrality of the 
Navy, Montgomery had little choice but to refuse the request. 11 

The Mexicans remained unconvinced by Montgomery's denial of U.S. involvement in the Bear 
Flag revolt. Mexican Governor Jose Castro lashed out with an indignant denunciation of 
Fremont's invasion of his country 12 The accusation elicited a quick denial from the 
Portsmouth. Official U.S. statements at this time insisted upon the distinction between their 
presence in California and the "political movement" of the Bear Flaggers. 13 

The stalemate of accusation and denial began rapidly to give way to action. On June 18, 1846, 
Commodore John D. Sloat of the Pacific squadron pledged support to Ide's "declaration of 
independence." Within days, the Mexican force of Joaquin de la Torre clashed with the Bear 
Flag men at Rancho Olompali, just north of present-day Novate Fremont, who by nature as 
well as conviction could not bear to miss the thick of the action, gathered his forces on July 
5 and marched southward toward San Rafael. He hoped to engage de la Torre, but the 
Mexican unit moved too swiftly and soon joined their leader Castro at Santa Clara in the 
south. 

Frustrated in his pursuit of the enemy, Fremont determined to disable the remaining guns 
of the Castillo de San Joaquin overlooking San Francisco Bay. He and his company of men, 
which included Kit Carson, Lieutenant Gillespie, and twenty Delaware Indians, approached 
the bark Moscow riding anchor off Sausalito, where they asked for the loan of a longboat to 
transport them across the bay. 14 On July 1, the party rowed southward where the Presidio 
was in total abandonment as was the Castillo, the latter's guns being found in poor condition. 



9. Statement of Interview Between Don Jose de la Roas and Jonathan B. Montgomery, June 15, 1846, California 
Historical Society Vault MS 57. 

10. William B. Ide to Commander Jonathan B. Montgomery, June 15, 1846, California Historical Society Vault MS 
57. 

11. Commander Jonathan B. Montgomery to William B. Ide, June 16, 1846, ibid. 

12. Governor Jose Castro to Commander Jonathan B. Montgomery, June 17, 1846, ibid. 

13. Commander Jonathan B. Montgomery to Jose Castro, June 18, 1846, ibid. 

14. Captain William D. Phelps, Fore and Aft or Leaves from the Life of an Old Sailor (Boston, MA: Nicolas & Hall, 
1871), 290 briefly recounts this incident. What the author failed to state was his attempt to make good a claim for 
$10,000 against the federal government for use of his boat in this affair. A grateful Congress voted him fifty dollars 
for services rendered. Eldredge, The Beginnings of San Francisco, Vol. II, 712-713. 

127 



Nevertheless, they spiked the 5 brass pieces they found, according to a communication from 
Montgomery to Larkin, to ensure that the ordnance would not be pressed into service by the 
enemy. 15 Then, Fremont and his comrades returned northward to their stronghold at Sutter's 
Fort. 

The following week, Commodore Sloat sent to Commander Montgomery on the Portsmouth 
the news of a declaration of war between Mexico and the United States. Sloat ordered 
Montgomery to "immediately take possession of Y[erba] B[uena], and hoist the American Rag 
within range of our guns; post up the proclamation in both languages; notify Captain 
Fremont and others, put the fort and guns in order." 16 

Early on the morning of July 9, 1846, Montgomery and a watch of marines and sailors came 
ashore at Yerba Buena to the accompaniment of a two-man fife-and-drum band playing 
"Yankee Doodle Dandy." Receiving no challenge from the pueblo, the company advanced to 
the flagstaff where amidst "three hearty cheers from the bystanders, a prolonged howl from 
the dogs, and a salvo of 21 guns from the ship," the stars and stripes ran aloft over the port 
of San Francisco. Turning about, the party headed back to the Portsmouth to the strains of 
"Old Dan Tucker," leaving U.S. Marine Corps Second Lieutenant Henry B. Watson on shore 
with 14 of his fellow marines. 17 

With Old Glory flying over the pueblo, the Americans immediately marched on to the castillo, 
hoisted the flag, and began to take stock of the shocking state of decay and disrepair that 
prevailed in the fort. Navy Lieutenant Misroon described the walls as "badly rent in several 
places, yet ... capable of sustaining and rendering good service." He noted the guns that 
Fremont had spiked, 10 altogether, and expressed the hope that "the three brass guns, (12s 
and 18s) old Spanish pieces made in 1623 [sic, probably a misreading of 1673], 1628, and 1693" 
could be put back into service. The fort itself required the addition of a new outpost at its 
rear, to guard against the high ground that commanded the defense works. Montgomery 
suggested that two more 18-pounders from Sonoma be sent to San Francisco and placed in 
a new defense work that he planned for the Yerba Buena anchorage. In anticipation of Sloat's 
approval for this project, Montgomery ordered construction of a gallery and platform to 
receive the guns. 18 

In the next few weeks, the Americans gradually consolidated their hold on the Presidio and 
the castillo. Montgomery brought a small gun, named the "Betsy Baker," from the Portsmouth 



15. Jonathan B. Montgomery to Thomas O. Larkin, July 2, 1846 in the Larkin Documents, IV, 192 (Bancroft 
Reference Notes, Vol. V, Chapter 2, Conquest of California). Phelps, Fore and Aft, 290, maintains there were three 
brass guns and seven heavy iron cannon at the fort, a number which coincides with later figures provide by U.S. 
Navy Lieutenant John S. Misroon. Phelps also indicated that he lent Fremont's group the crowbars, axes, and 
round files required to put the artillery out of action. 

16. Ex Doc 1, 30th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1014. 

17. Howard R. Lamar, ed., The Cruise of the Portsmouth: A Sailor's View of the Naval Conquest of California 1845-1847 
(New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963), 132. 

18. Douglas S. Watson, "San Francisco's Ancient Cannon," XV California Historical Society Quarterly no. 1 (March 
1936): 64. For an interesting comparison of guns cast in Spain see Jose Solano, Cannon in the Collection of the 
Hispanic Society of America (New York, N.Y.: Hispanic Society of America, 1935). For additional contextual data 
also read Jorge Vigon, Historia de la Artilleria Espanola (Madrid: Instituto Jeronimo Zurita, 1947) 3 vols. 

128 



and placed it in front of the flagstaff in the main plaza. 19 A newly established lookout atop 
Telegraph Hill soon spotted the arrival of the British frigate, H. M. S. Juno, on July 11. 
Although the English turned out to be friendly, Montgomery ordered the clearing of gun 
vents in the fort and recovered another gun, a "long twelve" or culverin, buried in the sand 
at the Presidio. 20 For the first time in years, the Presidio was buzzing with martial activity. 
East of the Presidio, at the corner of present-day Green and Battery streets, Montgomery's 
sailors built a curious fortification known as "Misroon's Folly." One sailor described it as "a 
sort of half-moon shape on the back side, and a kind of lozenge shape in front, in fact it was 
a Chef d'Oeuvre of engineering, and would bother any mortal to give a clear view of what its 
real shape was." 21 The officially named Fort Montgomery mounted five guns, three from 
the old Castillo and two from Sonoma. A sixth gun guarded the rear of the fort. 

Despite the flurry of activity that contrasted so sharply with Mexico's lethargy, the United 
States suffered from a similar shortage of troops and trained artillerymen. Up and down the 
Pacific Coast, the outbreaks of fighting put extraordinary demands on the combined U.S. 
Navy, Marine, Army, and volunteer units. In the vicinity of San Francisco Bay, the situation 
never became desperate because late in the month of July, a contingent of 230 Mormons 
arrived as reinforcements. Several months later, on March 6, 1847, Colonel Jonathan Stevenson 
sailed through the Golden Gate on the Perkins. Since 1846, Stevenson had been raising a 
Volunteer regiment to sail for the West Coast. The arrival of his "California Expeditionary 
Force," an infantry outfit also known as the First Regiment of New York Volunteers, nearly 
doubled the strength of the original American force in San Francisco. Moreover, Stevenson 
brought with him many skilled artisans to improve the defense works and sizable stores of 
ordnance material. 

The instructions of the secretary of war, "to have possession of the Bay of San Francisco and 
the country in that vicinity ... as a permanent and secure position on the coast of California," 
finally began to be carried out. 22 With the welcome influx of men, material, and expertise, 
work started immediately on repairing quarters, storehouses, and the road from the Presidio 
to the beach. 23 Troops cut down trees in Marin County where they built a sawmill at corte 
madera del Presidio, the shortened name being retained by the present town. They thereby 
provided sturdy redwood material for construction and repairs. They also restored and 
enlarged the Castillo and built a new road to connect the fortress and the main post. 24 
Nevertheless, this progress halted when the terms of enlistment for the New York Volunteers 



19. Lamar, Cruise of the Portsmouth, 134. 



20. Lieutenant John S. Misroon to Commodore John D. Sloat, July 11, 1846, California Historical Society MS 57. 
Supposedly, Don Francisco Sanchez knew of the presence of several buried guns at the Presidio. 

21. Lamar, The Cruise of the Portsmouth, 134. 

22. Secretary of War William L. Marcy to Jonathan Stevenson, Washington, September 11, 1847 as quoted in 
Donald C. Biggs, Conquer and Colonize: Stevenson's Regiment and California (San Rafael, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1977), 
71. 

23. Ibid., 96. 

24. On May 7, 1848, the commander of Company K of Stevenson's regiment was, "Detailed to take charge of the 
working party to repair the old Fort and mount the guns in Battery." This work commenced on May 8 and road 
repair between the Presidio and castillo took place on May 9, according to the entries for those days found in 'The 
Diary of Kimball Hale Dimmick While Stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco April 16 to October 
23, 1848," (MS, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.). 

129 



expired. Replaced by only a small number of men from the Third U. S. Artillery Regiment, 
the garrison at the Presidio further dwindled when the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill 
brought about desertion. With an inadequate work force and limited funds, the Presidio of 
the late 1840s through the late 1850s differed little from the past. Indeed, an 1850 visitor wrote 
of the post as consisting of "a few dilapidated, old adobes, some long, shed-like barracks, and 
a cottage or two for the officers' quarters [presumably the latter structures being redwood 
additions built by Stevenson's New Yorkers]." 25 Just a few years later an official inspection 
recorded: "The quarters for the soldiers were miserable adoby [sic] buildings, the leaving of 
the Mexican Government...." 26 With the notable exception of the Castillo and the Cantil 
Blanco upon which it stood, both being demolished and replaced with the impressive granite 
and brick fortress now known as Fort Point, the overall appearance of the Presidio remained 
similar to that of the late Spanish through Mexican periods of occupation. (See figures 23-25.) 
Not until the Civil War did notable changes begin extensively to alter the built environment. 
Conversely, by the early 20th century, little remained of the former regimes save the old 
south adobe which had been incorporated into the installation's Officers' Club and the half- 
dozen bronze cannon which formed decorative elements around the post and at Fort Point 
as well as Fort Mason, until their movement to their present locations much later in the 
century. These tangible links to the past, a number of streets named in honor of several 
former comandantes, and Mission Revival architecture found throughout much of the 
reservation, continue to provide a sense of the Presidio's Hispanic origins even into modern 
times. 



25. T. A. Barry and B. A. Patten, Men and Memories of San Francisco in the "Spring of '50" (San Francisco, Calif.: A. 
L. Bancroft & Company, 1873), 15-16. 

26. Robert W. Frazer, ed., Mansfield on the Condition of the Western Forts 7853-54 (Norman, Okla.: University of 
Oklahoma Press, 1963), 135. 

130 




Figure 23. The U.S. Army incorporated the remaining adobes of the Presidio of San Francisco 
into the early post as indicated by this circa 1855 illustration of the garrison in The Annals of 
San Francisco. For all purposes, only the flag represents a major change from G. M. Waseurtz's 
1843 view of the south and west sections of the garrison as he saw it under Mexico. Gene 
Autry Western Heritage Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. 



131 



pt: .- -^naDrr: 




wad si &. -***- m.m 



-tsr^JwJ, 



, *3&HJf£-? : *&- 



"SOUTH AOOBE" QUARTERS 





ADOBE IN REAR OE ADJUTANTS OEEICE 
Blacksmith and Carpenter's Shop 



ADOBE NfXT H0SP1TA1 



Figure 24. The "south" adobe (now the Officers' Club) was illustrated in Outline Descriptions 
Military Posts in the Military Division of the Pacific, 1879, thereby providing a good indication 
of the structure's relatively unaltered exterior, which probably was not unlike its appearance 
in the late Spanish through the Mexican periods of occupation. Library of Congress. 




WCST AOOBE 



a f^uaitar 



Figure 25. A few scattered adobes remained west of the present-day Officers' Club through 
the earthquake of 1906, then were demolished by the Army. These elevated drawings give 
a good indication of the other surviving elements of the Spanish-Mexican Presidio as they 
were depicted in Outline Descriptions Military Posts in the Military Division of the Pacific, 1879. 
Library of Congress. 



132 



CONCLUSIONS 



The Presidio of San Francisco came into being toward the end of nearly three centuries of 
Spanish Colonial experience in the New World. As the northernmost permanent outpost of 
Spain, the garrison suffered under "the multiple problems of divided authority, conflicting 
orders, differing objectives and slow communications," but, nevertheless, the troops carried 
out numerous functions from building their own quarters and defenses, drilling, mission and 
escort duty, exploration, military campaigns, livestock tending, "and caring for the million and 
one problems endemic at an understaffed and undersupplied frontier post surrounded by not 
always friendly natives...." 27 

The Mexican forces assumed the mantle of problems that weighed down the presidial forces 
under Spanish rule. Nevertheless, they and their predecessors formed the Spanish-speaking 
European population (gente de razdn) who established and maintained the Presidio, civilian 
settlements (San Jose and Branciforte), ranchos, and, in concert with the padres, the missions 
of northern California. They likewise would form the basis for Yerba Buena, destined to 
become the City of San Francisco, and made up much of the new garrison that established 
the outpost at Sonoma, the northernmost seat of the Mexican government in what is now the 
United States and the only new military installation to be founded in California under the 
Mexican regime. 

As was the case throughout Alta California until 1830, the Presidio of San Francisco's 
inhabitants constituted the main show of force during first the Spanish and later, the Mexican 
dominion over the territory. This group helped to hold back British, Russian, and other 
significant foreign encroachment for decades. These few troops and their families offered 
symbolic resistance to those who would have wrested San Francisco from Madrid or Mexico 
City. Such an open act of aggression could have led to war between many world powers. 

Moreover, the soldiers and their families brought with them their language, customs, 
traditions, and general expressions of Hispanic culture as it existed in the New World, 
especially as it was manifested in the borderlands. 28 One vestige of this cultural background 
was the persistence in building in adobe. Although the elements caused continual problems 
to buildings constructed of this material, the Hispanic population remained unflinching in its 
use. 29 Nevertheless, the fact that portions of their construction remain today as part of the 
Officers' Club attests to the ultimate wisdom of this action, because once proper roofs were 
available, the material lent itself to local conditions. 

Hispanic heritage remains vital throughout California and much of the American West. The 
descendants of the former Presidio population, many of whom continue to reside in the 



27. Robert L. Ives, Jose Velasquez: Saga of a Borderland Soldier (Tucson, Ariz.: Southwest Mission Research Center, 
1984), 179 and 202. 

28. See Antonio Blanco, La Lengua Espafiola en la historia de California (Madrid: Ediciones Cultura Hispanica, 1971), 
125-27 for similar rationale related to all of Alta California. 

29. As one historian observed, "For housing, their [the Spanish] heritage made them feel most at home behind 
walls fashioned of mother earth...." Brown, Sawpits in the Spanish Redwoods, i. For more on the influence of culture 
on building in California read Harold Kirker, "California Architecture and Its Relationship to Contemporary Trends 
in Europe and America," LI California Historical Quarterly no. 4 (Winter 1972): 289-305. 

133 



region, likewise provide a very real direct link to the past. Additionally, architectural 
traditions, street names, and other influences still are evident at the Presidio of San Francisco 
today, as they are throughout much of the region once governed by Spain and Mexico, while 
the segments of the Officers' Club and the six bronze cannon from the castillo, along with the 
various potential archaeological remains, offer both a laboratory for future study and key 
candidates for preservation. 

Thus, the Presidio of San Francisco offers a rare opportunity, as the only former Spanish and 
Mexican military garrison to be administered by the National Park Service in California and 
one of the few cultural resources under the Department of Interior related to Hispanic 
peoples, to interpret and safeguard a rich element of the nation's heritage virtually, without 
parallel. Latinos of the Bay Area, both long-established residents and new arrivals, can draw 
a source of pride and a sense of community from the Presidio and its garrisons, if this 
cultural resource receives the careful attention due such a historic site nearly unparalleled 
elsewhere in the National Park Service. 

Additionally, as the significance of the Spanish and Mexican periods formed the primary basis 
for the original designation of the site as a National Historic Landmark, the various themes 
represented in the naming of this property to the National Register and its potential as a 
prime example of longtime, on-going cultural diversity in the American West and the United 
States as a whole, make this property one of immeasurable value to present and future 
generations. It provides a microcosm of much of what now forms our national character and 
can help people from many backgrounds to achieve a better understanding of themselves and 
others through this unique window to events and individuals of a bygone era. 



134 



RECOMMENDATIONS 
AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE PLANNING 



RECOMMENDATIONS 

Few resources survive from the years of Spanish and Mexican occupation of the Presidio of 
San Francisco, 1776-1846. Remnant adobe walls within the northernmost section of the 
Officers' Club, six bronze cannon, and various archeological sites of unknown size, depth, and 
exact location all deserve careful consideration in future plans for the management of this 
remarkable National Historic Llandmark. 

Based upon the study of the history of El Presidio de San Francisco, a number of 
recommendations and suggestions seem appropriate. They are as follows: 



Officers' Club Analysis 

First, the adobe wall fragments preserved within later furred-out walls of the present Officers' 
Club as remodeled in 1934 and in subsequent renovations should be studied. While 
impossible to date with complete accuracy, and although heavily compromised by repeated 
and usually undocumented rebuildings and remodelings, these fragments constitute some of 
the earliest remaining above-surface fabric of the Presidio and also can be considered among 
some of the earliest Hispanic structural remains in not only the Bay Area but also in 
California. Any future work called for that will expose original materials must be monitored 
carefully to ensure that the fabric is not affected. Appropriate funds, time, and specialized 
personnel, including historians, historical architects, architectural historians, and archeologists, 
should be provided to study, photograph, measure, record, and possibly test the adobe walls. 
Those engaged in such work should review the manuscript prepared for the NPS Planning 
Team on the Spanish and Mexican period as well as the numerous photographs found in the 
Presidio Army Museum library that show exterior views of the present-day Officers' Club. 
Additionally, a number of secondary studies should be consulted prior to developing a formal 
strategy to investigate this "cornerstone" of the Hispanic Presidio. 30 



30. This effort should draw upon the information provided in Hendry and Bowman, "Spanish and Mexican 
Adobes," vol. IX; Elisabeth L. Egenhoff, ed., Fabricas: A Collection of Pictures and Statements on the Mineral Materials 
Used in Building in California Prior to 1850 (San Francisco, Calif.: State of California, Department of Natural 
Resources, Division of Mines, 1952); B. L. Meeden, "Army's Finest Club Building: Restoration of the Officers' Club 
at the Presidio of San Francisco," XIV Quartermaster Review no. 3 (November-December 1934): 37-39, and 72-73; 
Russell C. Ewing, "The Founding of the Presidio of San Francisco, Registered Landmark #79," (MS written under 
the auspices of the Works Progress Administration, 1936,); William Howard Knowles, Project Supervisor, "The 
Presidio of San Francisco: Photographs, drawings, sketches, prints, plans, and historical descriptive data bearing 
on the physical features of the buildings thereof as they appeared under the Spanish and Mexican Rule, 1776-1886," 
(Historic American Buildings Survey, MS, c. 1940); Presidio of San Francisco, Post Building Books, Presidio Army 
Museum, and D. P. Yeuel, 'The Presidio Officers' Club: Oldest Building in San Francisco," (MS, Knowles 
Collection, Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco, Calif., n.d.). This last document is in error in that Mission 
Dolores and not the Officers' Club deserves to be viewed as the oldest structure in the county. 

135 



Status of Later Alterations to the Officers' Club 

In undertaking any analysis of this matter, it should be kept in mind that the 1930s' efforts 
may possess significance as an early example of preservation/restoration of historic resources 
by the U.S. Army, thereby having potential significance in their own right. Conversely, the 
two-story rear addition to the Officers' Club, stepped up the hill east of Arguello Boulevard, 
because of its lack of accessibility to handicapped persons and because it poses so great an 
intrusion on the historic Central Post and on the site of the Spanish, Mexican, and early 
American Presidio, should be considered for demolition. In this event, the work should be 
accomplished with the greatest of care, including the movement in and out of demolition 
equipment, due to the fact that this area offers a high potential for historical archeological 
investigation. Extreme sensitivity to subsurface remains in the general location radiating from 
the Presidio Officers' Club in all four directions for several hundred yards should be adopted 
to protect potential archeological elements. No future building should be carried out in this 
vicinity. 



Possible Future Use of Officers' Club 

Perhaps the best use for the Officers' Club, involving the least change to the building and 
taking into consideration a tradition established as early as the pre-Civil War, would be its 
continued function as a food service facility open to the public, leased to an appropriate 
operator under strict historic preservation covenants. The public restaurant could retain the 
name "The Officers' Club" and make it possible to eliminate other food service options located 
to the south of the Central Post, which presently constitute intrusions on the historic scene. 



Archeology Plan and Research of the Presidio Quadrangle 

Archeological investigation of the original Presidio site(s) should be undertaken based upon 
a suitable research design to define the limits of the original and any later quadrangles and 
configurations of the Spanish-Mexican garrison. This well- conceived archeological strategy 
should be part of an overall approach that also considers prehistoric resources and later 
historic periods in one general plan. The portion of this plan related to the Spanish-Mexican 
period should include remote sensing methods (such as ground-penetrating radar) in concert 
with historical documentation, maps made by J. Bowman, G. Hendry, and C. St. Croix, (see 
figures 26-28), contemporary utilities information, and topographical evidence, as has been 
successfully carried out in Tucson, Tubac, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Monterey, relative 
to presidios in these locations. 

Of particular importance will be the use of three 1850s' plans and a circa 1861 plan from the 
National Archives, Washington, D.C., which depict the locations of several remaining 
adobes. 31 These plats, along with other maps of the 19th century, should be used as the 



31. See "Diagram of Public Buildings at the Presidio of San Francisco" accompanying R.W. Allen to Major O. 
Cross, March 15, 1855, Record Group 92, Office of the Quartermaster general, Consolidated Correspondence File, 
Presidio of San Francisco, National Archives; Proceedings of a Board of Officers Convened by Virtue of the 
Following Orders, Orders No. 5, March 7, 1857, ibid.; H. G. Gibson to Lt. J. G. Chandler, July 7, 1859, ibid., and 
Lt. H. G. Gibson to Quartermaster General, June 30, 1861, ibid. 

136 



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Figure 26. C. St. Croix's 1939 survey of the Presidio of San Francisco's "Original Boundary" 
indicated that the northern portion of the quadrangle extended far beyond the markers 
erected to set off the northwest and northeast corners of the outpost. St. Croix based his 
conclusions on a 1792 plan of the Presidio by Hermenegildo Sal. While probably correct in 
this regard, St. Croix was in error by stating that Sal's north arrow actually pointed to the 
northwest. Evidently he incorrectly assumed that the Officers' Club, the traditionally held 
location for the comandancia, represented Sal's quarters, when in reality enlisted billets stood 
in this vicinity during the early 1790s. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 
Calif. 



137 



Figure 27. According to G.W. Hendry and J.N. Bowman, the first and second Presidio of San 
Francisco may have stood near or formed part of the site of the Presidio as described in 1792. 
Consequently, they prepared a plan of the post that indicated the following features. Based 
upon Hendry and Bowman, "Spanish and Mexican Adobes," vol. IX, an original copy of 
which is found in the California Room, California State Library, Sacramento, Calif. 

Legend for Map 

1. Palizada First Presidio Site. 1776. 

2. The Adobe Second Presidio Site 1777-78. 

3. The Adobe Third and Later Presidio Sites. 1780 onward. 4. The Palizada First 
Comandancia Site. 1776. 

5. The Second Comandancia Site 1777-78. 

6. The Adobe Third Comandancia Site. Probably 1781. 

7. The Adobe Fourth Comandancia Site. 1791. 

8. The Sites of the five Presidio Churches (1) 1776; (2) 1776; (3) 1777-78; (4) about 1781; 
(5) between 1818 and 1826. 

9. The sites of the Guardia [guard house], Calabozo [jail] and Cuartel [barracks]. 
Probably later 1780's or early 1790's. 

10. The Sites of the Warehouses. (1) 1776; (2) 1777-1778; (3) about 1779-80. 

11. The Site of the Adobe Sergeant's House. Probably 1791. 

12. The Sites of the Troops' Quarters. (1) Palizada 1776; (2) Palizada 1777-78; (3) adobe 
1780 and after. 

13. The Sites of the Shops and Other Buildings. 1793 and after. 

14. The Sites of the Presidio Walls and Gate. (1) 1776; (2) 1777-78; (3) adobe perhaps 
1810V 



138 



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139 



Figure 28. Volume IX of Hendry and Bowman also provided a larger scale map indicating 
their conclusions for probable placements of some of the other cultural features of the Presidio 
of San Francisco during the Spanish and Mexican periods of occupation. They did not provide 
indications for the early anchorage and Castillo on this diagram but covered those two 
elements in the text. California Room, State Library, Sacramento, Calif. 

Legend For Map 

15. An Adobe Building Site, probably 1840s but after 1843. 

16. An Adobe Headquarters Building Site. Probably late 1830's. 

17. The Presidio Roads. 

18. The Sites of the Dwellings at El Polin. Dates unknown. [The El Polin complex also 
depicts a well and a dam to the east.] 

19. The probable Site of the Sanchez Building. Date unknown. 

20. The Sites of the Two Miranda Dwellings at Ojo de Agua de Figueroa. About 1833 
and 1834. 



140 




THE 'PRESIDIO 

•AN r«ANClSCO 

177( to 18403 

SCMX: I INCH.aOOfttT 



141 



basis for a CAD system map that likewise incorporates the 1792 Sal Plan as a means of 
enhancing predictability for test excavations. Moreover, comparison of the Smyth, Beechey, 
and Waseurtz depictions of the Presidio, from the mid-1 820s through the early 1840s, to the 
illustration in the Annals of San Francisco from circa 1855 and one found in Hutchins Illustrated 
California Magazine for 1859 (vol. in, p. 536), tend to indicate the position of remaining adobes 
that carried over from the Mexican, if not the Spanish era. Because the present Daughters of 
the American Revolution markers do not coincide with dimensions from the diagram of the 
quadrangle provided by Hermenegildo Sal in 1792, and due to C. St. Croix's incorrect 
presupposition that the Officers' Club was Sal's residence rather than its actual position in the 
vicinity of Pershing Square, this automated tool would be helpful in increasing predictability. 



Archeological Excavation Approach and Purpose for Quadrangle 

After thorough planning and research, specific test excavation should be considered at sensed 
anomalies followed up by broader excavations where intact cultural materials of the 1776-1876 
period are found. Datable artifacts, soil differences indicating adobe use, and any 
foundations, cobble or otherwise, should serve as the basis to ascertain where the walls of the 

Spanish-Mexican Presidio were, and if these were enlarged over time, i.e., was there only one 
quadrangle of consistent size, or was it rebuilt upon one or more occasions in a larger size? 

Other questions to be considered in relation to proposed excavation should include: where 
were the corners of the Presidio quadrangle or quadrangles located? Did the Spanish ever 
build bastions per the regulations of the period and as indicated by the 1776 plan, and, if so, 
did these continue in use to later times and were they always located in the same corners? 
Was the site of the 1776 garrison the same site of future posts? Where precisely was the gate 
or gates? What evidence exists concerning the east wall, which seems to have been in ruin 
or not completed at all during various periods of the Presidio's occupation between 1776- 
1846? Where were the various chapels, and did their size vary from rebuilding to rebuilding? 
Where were the structures such as corrals, sheds for wood or animal fodder, or even small 
buildings and residences located in near proximity to the quadrangle? 



Outlying Archeological Resources 

Likewise, ground surveys in the area of the Presidio quadrangle, El Polin Spring, and 
Mountain Lake, along with limited test excavation, may prove useful in obtaining information 
about certain outbuildings and evidence of human activities that appear in literature of the 
first half of the 19th century, including such sources as a chart made by Captain William 
Beechey of the Royal Navy and a sketch in the Vischer Papers purporting to show the 
Presidio as it was in 1820. There may be other areas of use but little physical evidence 
probably remains. Most notably, the rancho del rey seemed never to have any special 
structures, at least during the time that this function was located on the Presidio reservation. 
In addition, trails, gardens, and corrals are known to exist from contemporary accounts. In 
the future, all ground-disturbing activity at the Presidio should be monitored by an on-site 
archeologist. Outside the range of the main garrison area and other 

potential outlying areas for subterranean archeological investigation, the Castillo de San 
Joaquin and its white cliffs, while but a memory, had outbuildings to the rear, with above- 



142 



ground evidence remaining as late as the 1930s when the Golden Gate Bridge's construction 
probably brought about their removal. Although ground disturbances in this area have been 
many, a survey and limited test excavations of the heights behind the former castillo might 
be made in an effort to locate some sub-surface evidence of this defense work's support 
structures, most notably the magazine. 

In all these instances, detailed archeological surveys should be undertaken with archeological 
testing focusing on the most significant sites as mentioned above. It is recognized that all of 
these areas have been affected greatly by later development, yet the potential remains for 
some undisturbed resources. Based upon the results of such surveys and testing, an 
archeological sensitivity map should be developed alongside the requirement for archeological 
monitoring for all future ground-disturbing activity on the Presidio. 



Submerged Archeological Resources 

Another consideration, the old anchorage off what is now the U. S. Coast Guard Station, may 
yield some evidence from materials dropped overboard by crews. More important, the wreck 
of the second San Carlos possibly rests off this point and constitutes a potential submerged 
resource. 32 Because of extensive landfill, moving tides, sediments, and other factors, it may 
prove extremely difficult or impossible to use remote sensing methods, such as magnetometer 
surveys, to ascertain the whereabouts of remains from this vessel. Analysis of the actual 
wreck event for comparison with current landfills, and the development of a 
subsurface-testing, ground-penetrating, onshore radar program at potential locations may bear 
consideration and could reveal significant information regarding Spanish ship design in the 
New World of the late 18th century. 



Prehistoric Archeological Resources and Early Flora 

Moreover, the sites of various North American Indian activities that took place on the present 
Presidio reserve must be taken into consideration for protection and possible further study, 
although the more than 200 years of military occupation of the reservation may mask or may 
have meant removal of archeological resources. An analysis of these prehistoric resources 
must be included in any general management or development plan and especially one in the 
vicinity of Crissy Field, beach areas, tidepool and rocky locations, and at freshwater sources. 
Ground disturbances should be monitored by National Park Service professional staff. Finally, 
the original flora which, in some cases, is unique to the Presidio must be identified and form 
part of the protective measures taken to preserve these fragile resources that have been 
overshadowed by the extensive changes to the local environment over the past several 
hundred years. 



32. Exploration of this aspect should be undertaken in keeping with submarine archaeological techniques, and 
if evidence is found the information should be added to that already contained in James P. Delgado and Stephen 
A. Haller, Submerged Cultural Resource Assessment: Golden Gate National Recreation Area-Gulf of the Farallones National 
Marine Sanctuary (San Francisco, Calif.: The United States Department of Commerce and the United States 
Department of Interior, 1989), 74-85. 

143 



It should be noted that this systematic archeological approach should produce information 
about the physical aspects of early presidio development in more detail than further research 
efforts in Spain and Mexico. While certain written records may exist beyond those used for 
the NPS study of the Spanish-Mexican period of occupation, the resources expended on an 
exhaustive search in foreign archives will achieve limited results in with comparison with the 
potential for historic sites archeology. 



Select Removal of Later Intrusions 

Consideration should be given to removal of certain intrusive elements from the present scene 
to restore, in part, the open vistas that formed a significant aspect of the Presidio's original 
position and that continued throughout much of the post's existence into this century. Most 
particularly, removal of two barracks-type World War II "temporary" structures, which are 
used as an annex to Pershing Hall, from the area of the northwest portion of the quadrangle 
should be weighed as an option for demolition in keeping with reinstating the vistas and 
earlier open space toward the bay. These structures may be found to contribute to the 
National Historic Landmark. Regardless, it is recommended that they be demolished after the 
appropriate Section 106 proceedings have been completed. After removal, the asphalt to the 
north of these structures could be taken up and archeological investigations conducted as 
recommended above. Landscaping, such as a hedge, could be used or some other form of 
demarcation, if planting would intrude upon the archeological resource, in order to clearly 
outline the former Spanish-Mexican quadrangle. The landscaping should be low and 
unobtrusive, yet clear to the person on-site. It should not involve rerouting either Graham or 
Mesa streets or Moraga Avenue, or closing these routes, as they are historic in relation to the 
American period of occupation. 



Cannon from the Castillo 

At the Presidio of San Francisco today five bronze cannon (two in front of the Officers' Club 
entrance, two at the flag pole at Pershing Square, and one under the veranda of the Presidio 
Army Museum) and a sixth gun at Fort Point National Historic Site were part of the 
armament of the Castillo de San Joaquin. 33 All of these pieces were cast in Lima, Peru. Each, 
as was the custom of the time, bears its own name and other data. S[anto]. Domingo, 1628, 
may be the oldest dated bronze gun in the United States and is found at the entrance of the 
Presidio Army Museum on a replica carriage provided in the 1970s. Poder and San Pedro, 
both cast in 1673, rest on concrete mounts in front of the Officers' Club. San Francisco, 1679, 
and La Birgin [virgin] de Barbaneda, 1693, flank the flagpole in Pershing Square, being 
mounted atop concrete. San Martin, 1684, is on a replica carriage at Fort Point. 

Six additional Peruvian-made 17th century guns, some by the same makers as those found 
in San Francisco, decorate monuments around the United States Naval Academy at 
Annapolis, Maryland. These pieces all bear the impression, "Taken by the Navy in California 
in 1847." The pieces are S. Albaro, 1673, at a class bench at the intersection of Stribling and 
Chambers walks; Iesus [Jesus], 1675, at a class bench near the intersection of Moffett and 



33. See Watson, "San Francisco's Ancient Cannon": 58-69. An analysis of one of the "brass pieces, the gun cast in 
1672, revealed the following elements: Cu 90%; Sn 5%; Pb 1%; Fe 0.5%; Mg 0.2%; Zn <0.1; Ag 0.1. 

144 



Stribling walks; S. Damian, 1684, at the northeast corner of the Mexican War Monument; S. 
Cayetano, 1686, west of the entrance walk to the administration building; S. Leon, 1687, with 
a broken dolphin and painted green, on the south side of the entrance of Mahan Hall; and 
S. Ioseph [Joseph], 1687, on the northwest corner of the Mexican War Monument. All are on 
ornamental iron carriages except S. Leon, which is on a concrete mount. A single Peruvian- 
made gun, S. Brvno [Bruno], 1686, also exists and may be one taken from California despite 
a sign to the contrary. It is at the Washington Navy Yard on a decorative iron mount west 
of the U.S. Marine Corps Museum. These seven Peruvian guns and the six in San Francisco 
are among the few known pieces taken from California after the war with Mexico. 34 Those 
located in the eastern United States are in worse condition than those on the West Coast. 

As some of the earliest examples of material culture related to the Presidio of San Francisco, 
these weapons should be protected from vandalism and environmental damage having 
already been examined by a conservator who made certain recommendations as to their 
proper preservation. Consideration should be given to the removal of all six pieces from their 
present exterior locations and their placement within an interior facility, most appropriately 
a new museum structure that would place them in an interpretive context and provide a 
controlled environment. They should be placed on accurate replica carriages. Figures dressed 
in replica uniforms of the correct era, a series of scale models of the castillo, and copies of 
Spanish documents related to the battery and its guns could form part of the interpretation. 



SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE PLANNING 

Development of an Interpretative Plan 

A long-range interpretive plan should be developed for the entire Presidio from the early 
Ohlone presence to the base closure. As part of an overall interpretive plan, contact should 
be made with the Ohlone Families Consulting Services, California Native Heritage 



34. Of the 19 guns now at the U. S. Naval Academy from the conflict between the United States and Mexico, 12 
bear evidence of coming from California after 1847. It is impossible to ascertain at this time, however, whether 
any of these pieces are the two missing bronze cannon from the castillo or whether they came from San Diego, 
Santa Barbara, or Monterey where other ordnance existed. See Steve Perry to Mr. [John] Langellier, October 30, 
1975, Saint John's College, Annapolis, Md. 

Further, Gordon Chappell to Ship History Branch, Naval Historical Center, December 9, 1988, San Francisco, Calif.; 
and undated list "Mexican War Guns at U.S. Naval Academy" prepared by Gordon Chappell, and in National Park 
Service Western Regional Historian Vertical Files, point out that there is a 1769 bronze gun cast in Lima at 
Annapolis marked "Por Pablo Torrs y Huerta," three Manila- cast pieces, El Faetonte, 1781, El Neptvno [Neptune], 
1781, and San Telesforo, 1793, along with three guns from Barcelona, El Gallard and El Dromedario, both from 
1766, and La Perla from 1767, plus another gun that may be Portuguese and that has association with California. 

In addition, in 1848, the U. S. S. Lexington took delivery from "San Francisco, Upper California," of 10 bronze 
Spanish guns; one 12-pounder, one short 4-pounder, three 9-pounders, two 6- pounders, and three short 
6-pounders. No names or dates were given. Receipt, Nov. 1848, Edw. Chattrel[?]. Liet. Cmdg. U.S. Ship Lexington, 
to Ordnance Sergeant Theodore Heatherton [?], National Archives, Record Group 48, Naval Records Collection 
of the Office of Naval Records and Library, Area File, Naval Records Collection, 1775-1910, Area 9, April 1848-May 
1855 (Microfilm Publication M625, Roll 286). These may be the "prize" cannon now at Annapolis and may have 
been taken from both San Francisco and Santa Barbara, the former site having had guns cast in Manila and Spain, 
according to an earlier 19th century account. Further adding to the matter, the San Diego battery also had cannon 
and some of these may still exist as there are pieces in today's Presidio Park overlooking "Old Town." 

145 



Commission, and the American Indian Historical Society in San Francisco to incorporate pre- 
1776 native American themes. Additionally, a substantial segment of this plan should focus 
on the Spanish and Mexican period of occupation and its contrast with the pre-Columbian 
human activities of the area along with the native plant life and geology. All interpretation 
should stress the various themes that make the Presidio of San Francisco significant on 
national, regional, and local levels. All interpretation must include the roles of men, women, 
and children, so far as possible, to provide a balanced view of the resource. 35 Continual 
dialogue with the Native American and Latino communities throughout the development of 
any interpretive plans and their execution should be a high priority. In the latter instance, 
contact with groups interested in the Hispanic heritage of California, such as "Los 
Calif ornianos," likewise is encouraged. Interpretive products should include specific modules 
related to various age groups, and, in the case of school-age children, should draw upon the 
standardized California Social Studies Curriculum. Professional museum educators and 
education specialists should be considered as consultants in developing various interpretive 
elements for the Presidio. Bilingual (English and Spanish) approaches should underpin all 
efforts, at a minimum for the Spanish-Mexican period of occupation. Interpretation should 
be carried out in the broader context of other Spanish-Mexican cultural resources within not 
only California but also other Western states. Coordination with other presidio sites in San 
Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Tubac, Arizona, seems of particular merit for sharing 
of information on the role of the Spanish and Mexican garrisons in the history of the 
borderlands. 



Wayside Exhibits 

A plan of wayside exhibits should be developed for the Presidio, with components related 
to the Spanish-Mexican period of occupation. They should be deigned and located in a way 
as not to intrude on the historic environment so as to impair vistas, obstruct photography, 
or cause similar problems. They should be based upon contemporary maps, charts, and 
illustrations to interpret the Presidio main quadrangle with subelements related to the adobe 
remains of the Officers' Club; the castillo; Mountain Lake and the Anza expedition; El Polin 
as a water source, and the anchorage. The exhibits should be resistant to weather and 
vandalism and contain texts in both Spanish and English. The design should be devised and 
implemented base-wide to provide graphic cohesiveness and replace the diverse signs now 
found throughout the installation. The wayside exhibits should form part of a larger 
interpretive package of publications and museum exhibits that would all be based upon 
original sources and follow a special Presidio of San Francisco overall design strategy to 
provide compatibility and easy recognition. 



35. Salome Hernandez, "The U.S. Southwest Female Participation in Official Spanish Settlement Expeditions: 
Specific Case Studies in the Sixteenth, Seventh, and Eighteenth Centuries," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of New 
Mexico, Albuquerque, 1987) offers a useful context and framework related to women and the Spanish borderlands 
and could be used in development of interpretation along these lines for the Presidio of San Francisco. For 
producing some sense of daily life under the Spanish regime Amador's "Memorias" offers the single most valuable 
source. Caution should be taken when generalizing about the life-styles of the garrisons, however, to avoid the 
creation or reinforcement of stereotypes. 

146 



Museum 

A replacement for the Presidio Army Museum should be developed not as a "visitor center" 
but as a professionally designed museum with adequate environmental controls and staffing. 
This museum should include artifacts, art, graphics, interactive computer and media 
presentations, models, full-scale dioramas, and replica material related to the various periods 
of the Presidio's existence, including pre-Columbian times and the Spanish-Mexican era 
components. 36 The facility also should be used to interpret the overall military history of the 
Bay Area in order to provide a central point of information concerning the other posts now 
under the National Park Service and on Angel Island as well. 

The six cannon from the Castillo should also be interpreted in this facility and, whenever 
possible, original artifacts, objects, and materials related to the Spanish and Mexican regimes 
should be obtained to allow better understanding of the 1776-1846 period. Labels should be 
bilingual or a Spanish language guide to the interpretive exhibits and displays should be 
produced. Hands-on materials should be provided. Efforts should be made to locate the 
replica uniforms, cueras, adargas, and other accoutrements made for the 1976 "Twin- 
Bicentennial." These items were on hand at both Fort Point National Historic Site and the 
Presidio Army Museum. The materials then could be drawn together as a basis for further 
interpretive use. Accurate reproductions of children's and women's clothing of the period also 
ought to be produced based upon appropriate research and using correct materials and 
construction methods. Such items might not only form resources for the museum but also 
serve as part of outreach kits that could be sent to educational elements throughout the 
community on short-term loan. 

A corps of carefully trained Volunteers in Parks under a salaried volunteer coordinator should 
be considered to assist in the broad interpretation mission that will fall to the National Park 
Service when it assumes stewardship of the Presidio. Given the scope and size of the 
resource, supplementing paid staff with high caliber volunteers will be imperative. 



Living History 

"Living history" interpretation is both expensive and problematical. Since National Park 
Service resources are unlikely to be available in this area, such an approach should be not be 
encouraged at this time. Above all, first-person approaches should be avoided until research 
is concluded in primary sources with specific Presidio content. Volunteers, whether individual 
or groups, seeking to participate in living history presentations, should undergo intensive 
training and be reviewed by professional staff as to the accuracy of weapons, drill, 
accoutrements, uniforms, and general knowledge of the time period being depicted. Those 
who portray Spanish-speaking residents of the Presidio should be native speakers. These and 
other rigid guidelines should be developed to avoid the many pitfalls associated with this 
type of interpretation. 



36. In terms of interactive presentations, the 3.5 CD with "Joy-Stick" configuration or a touch-screen computer 
would allow computer-generated graphics of the post as it evolved to be explored by museum visitors. It also 
could feature excerpts from diaries and original documents and have such firsthand accounts given in a number 
of languages by professional native-speaker actors or voice-over talent. Music could be included as well, along 
with numerous other elements. 

147 



Publications and Media Productions 

Not merely one, but a system of interpretive flyers or folders on various aspects of the 
Presidio of San Francisco should be developed, one of which should be devoted in its entirety 
to the Presidio during the Spanish and Mexican periods. This literature should be in Spanish 
and English. Braille literature should developed as well. The history studies developed for the 
NPS Planning Team similarly should be published for sale to the public through cooperating 
associations and other appropriate outlets and kept in print for this purpose. Bi-lingual audio 
tours of the post, either in cassette form or through a low-frequency, limited broadcast radio 
system (such as used on approaching Ft. Laramie National Historic Site for use with 
automobile radios) also might be explored. A slide/sound or VHS presentation of short 
duration could be produced for both on-site use as well as for loan to schools and educational 
organizations or for sale to the public. 



148 



APPENDIXES 



APPENDIX A 
COMMANDERS AND ACTING COMMANDERS OF THE PRESIDIO, 1776-1846 



Jose(f) Joaquin Moraga 1 
Diego Gonzalez 
Hermenegildo Sal 

Jose Dario Argiiello 
Hermenegildo Sal 
Jose Perez Fernandez 
Pedro de Alberni 
Manuel Rodriguez 
Luis Antonio Argiiello 2 
Ignacio Martinez 

Jose Antonio Sanchez 

Ignacio Martinez 
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo 

Damaso Rodriguez 
Francisco Sanchez 

Juan Prado Mesa 

Santiago Hernandez 
Joaquin Pena 



July 1776 to July 13, 1785 

July 13, 1785 to February 4, 1787 

February 4, 1787 to June 12, 1787 (also acting in lieu of 
Gonzales) 

June 12, 1787 to August 2, 1806 

1791 to 1794; 1795 to 1796 (acting in Argiiello's absence) 

1794 to 1795 (acting in Argiiello's absence) 

1796-1801 (Catalonian Volunteers) 

1806-1813 (never present) 

August 7, 1806 to March 27, 1830 

1822 to 1827 ; 1828 to 1830 (acting during Argiiello's 
various absences) 

1829 to 1830; 1830 to 1831 (acting while awaiting 
Argiiello's replacement) 

March 27, 1830 to September 1831 

September 1831 to 1834 (thereafter at Sonoma as 
commander of the Northern Department) 

(acting and alternating with Mesa and Sanchez) 

1838 to 1839; 1841 to 1843 (acting and alternating with 
Rodriguez and Mesa) 

1835; 1839; 1841 to 1843; (acting and alternating with 
Rodriquez and Sanchez) 

1841 (caretaker) 

1844 (caretaker) 



1. First Spanish Regime Comandante. 

2. Last Spanish and First Mexican Regime Comandante. 



151 



APPENDIX B 

INHABITANTS OF THE PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO 
DECEMBER 31, 1776 1 



MILITARY 

1. Lt. Jose Moraga (originally unaccompanied by his family) 

2. Sgt. Juan P. Grijalva, his wife Maria Dolores Valencia and their children Maria Josefa, 
Maria del Carmen, and Claudio 

3. Cpl. Domingo Alviso, his wife Maria Angela Chumasero (a.k.a. Maria Angela Trejo), and 
their children Francisco Xavier, Maria Loreto, and Juan Ygnacio 

4. Cpl. Valerio Mesa, his wife Maria Leonor Borboa, and their children Jose Joaquin, Jose 
Ygnacio, Jose Dolores, Maria Manuela, Jose Antonio, and Juan 

5. Cpl. Gabriel Peralta, his wife Francisca Manuela Valenzuela, and their children Luis 
Maria, Pedro Regalado, and Maria Gertrudis 

6. Pvt. Juan Antonio Amesquita, his wife Juana Maria Gaona, and their children Maria 
Josefa, Maria Dolores, Maria Matilde, Maria Gertrudis, and Maria de los Reyes 

7. Pvt. Ramon Bojorques, his wife Maria Francisca Romero, and their daughter Maria 
Gertrudis 

8. Pvt. Carlos Gallego (unmarried?) 

9. Pvt. Justo R. Altamirano, his wife Maria Loreto Delfin, and their children Jose Antonio 
and Jose Matias 

10. Pvt. Ygnacio Linares, his wife Maria Gertrudis Rivas, and their children Maria Gertrudis, 
Juan Jose, Maria Juliana, and Salvador Ygnacio 

11. Pvt. Luis Alvarez [de Acevedo], his wife Maria Nicolasa Ortiz, and their children Juan 
Francisco and Maria Francisca 

12. Pvt. Juan Salvio Pacheco, his wife Maria Carmen del Valle, and their children Miguel, 
Ygnacio, Ygnacia Gertrudis, Bartolome Ygnacio, and Maria Barbara 

13. Pvt. Jose Antonio Garcia, his wife Petronila Josefa de Acuna, and their children Maria 
Josefa, Jose Francisco, and Juan Guillermo, as well as Sefiora Garcia's two children from 
her first marriage, Maria Graciana and Jose Vincente Antonio Hernandez 

14. Pvt. Pablo Pinto, his wife Francisca Xaviera Ruelas, and their children Juan Maria, Juana 
Francisca, and Jose Marcelo 

15. Pvt. Antonio Quiterio Aceves, his wife Maria Feliciana Cortes, and their children Maria 
Petra, Jose Cipriano, Maria Gertrudis, Juan Gregorio, Juan Pablo, and Jose Antonio 

16. Pvt. Ygnacio M. Gutierrez, his wife Ana Maria Osuna, and their children Maria Petronila, 
Maria de los Santos, and Diego Pasqual 

17. Pvt. Ygnacio Soto, his wife Maria Barbara Espinosa, and their children Maria Francisca 
and Jose Antonio 

18. Pvt. Jose Manuel Valencia, his wife Maria de la Luz Munoz, and their children Maria 
Gertrudis, Francisco Maria, and Ygnacio Maria 

19. Pvt. Pedro Anto. Bojorques, his wife Maria Francisca de Lara, and their daughter Maria 
Agustina 

20. Pvt. Jose Anto. San[che]z, his wife Maria de los Dolores Morales, and their children Maria 
Josefa, Jose Antonio, and their adopted son, Ygnacio Cardenas 



1. Taken from Lo Bulio, "Presidio de San Francisco, 31 December 1776," Antcpasados, Vol. II, seccion 3, 21-32. 

152 



21. Pvt. Manuel [Ramirez] Arellano, his wife Maria Agueda Lopez de Haro, their son Jose 
Mariano, and their adopted son, Matias Vega 

22. Pvt. Joaquin de Castro, his wife Maria Martina Botiller, and their children Ygnacio 
Clemente, Ana Josefa, Maria de la Encarnacion, Maria Martina, Jose Mariano, Jose 
Joaquin, Francisco Maria, Francisco Antonio, and Carlos Antonio 

23. Pvt. Felipe Santiago Tapia, his wife Juana Maria Cardenas (a.ka. Juana Maria Filomena 
Hernandez), and their children Maria Rosa, Maria Antonia, Jose Bartolome, Juan Jose, 
Jose Cristobal, Maria Manuela, Jose Francisco, Maria Ysidora, and Jose Victor 

24. Pvt. Juan Francisco Bernar 2 , his wife Maria Josefa Soto, and their children Jose Joaquin, 
Juan Francisco, Jose Dionisio, Jose Apolinaro, Ana Maria, Maria Teresa de Jesus, and 
Tomas Januario 

25. Pvt. Jose Anto. Sotelo, his wife Gertrudis Peralta (a.k.a. Manuela Gertrudis Buelna), and 
their son Ramon 

26. Pvt. Juan Atanasio Vasquez, his wife Gertrudis Castelo, and their children Jose Antonio 
and Pedro Jose 

27. Pvt. Agustin Valenzuela, his wife Petra Ygnacia de Ochoa, and their daughter Maria 
Zeferina 

28. Pvt. Felipe Ochoa (unmarried?) 

29. Pvt. Nicolas Galindo, his wife Maria Teresa Pinto, and their son Juan Venancio 

30. Pvt. Juan Jose Peralta (unmarried son of Gabriel Peralta and Francisca Manuela 
Valenzuela) 

31. Pvt. Jose Migl. Silva (unmarried?) 

32. Pvt. Jose [Manuel] Anto. Gonzales, his wife Maria Micaela Ruiz, and their children Juan 
Jose, Ramon, Francisco, and Maria Gregoria 

33. Pvt. Sebastian A. Lopez, his wife Felipa Neri, and their children Sebastian, Maria Tomasa, 
and Maria Justa 

34. Pvt. Santiago de la Cruz Pico, his wife Maria Jacinta Bastida, and their children Jose 
Dolores, Jose Maria, Jose Miguel, Francisco Xavier, Patricio, Maria Antonia Tomasa, and 
Maria Josefa 

35. Pvt. Jose Vicente Felis (widower of Maria Ygnacia Manuela Pinuelas, who died on route 
to California) and their children Jose Doroteo, Jose Francisco, Jose de Jesus, Maria Loreto, 
Maria Marcela, Maria Antonia, and Jose Antonio de Capistrano 

36. Pvt. Ygnacio Higuera and his wife Maria Micaela Bojorques 

37. Storekeeper Hermenegildo Sal (unmarried) 



CIVILIANS 

38. Poblador Nicolas Berreyessa and his sister Maria Ysabel Berreyessa, both unmarried 

39. Poblador Manuel Gonzales and his wife Maria Michaela Ruiz 
and their children Juan Jose, Ramon, Francisco, and Maria Gregoria 

40. Poblador Casimiro Vaerla and his wife Juana Santos Pinto 

41. Poblador Feliciana Arvallo the widow of Jose de Gutierrez and their children Maria 
Tomasa and Maria Eustaquia Gutierrez 

42. Poblador Pedro Perez de la Fuente 

43. Poblador Manuel Amesquita (a.k.a. Salvador Manuel, Manuel Domingo, and Manuel 
Francisco) and his wife Rosalia Zamora 



2. No doubt Juan Francisco Bernal. 

153 



44. Poblador Tiburcio Vasquez and his wife Maria Antonia Bojorques 

45. Ygnacio Archuleta (servant) and his wife and family 

46. Felipe Alondo (servant, presumably unmarried) 

47. Salvador Espinoza (servant, presumably unmarried) 

48. Jose Migl. Valez (servant, presumably unmarried) 



154 



APPENDIX C 

COMPARATIVE INFORMATION FOR TYPICAL TROOP STRENGTHS 
AND ROSTERS UNDER SPAIN, 1787-1819 



JUNE 18, 1787 1 

Presidio Company Officers and Noncommissioned Officers 



Lieutenant Jose Argiiello 

Sergeant Juan Pablo Grijalva (in Monterey) 

Corporal Mariano Cordero 

Corporal Ignacio Higuera 



Ensign Ramon Lasso de la Vega 
Corporal Juan Josef Peralta 
Corporal Nicolas Galindo 



Presidio Leather Jacket Soldiers 

Ramon Bojorques 
Ignacio Linares 
Agustin Valenzuela 
Juan Bernal 
Miguel Pacheco 
Luis Peralta 
Pedro Peralta 
Ignacio Pacheco 
Bartolome Pacheco 
Joaquin Bernal 
Jose Aceves 
Francisco Valencia 
Luis Garcia 



Justo Altamirano 
Antonio Aceves 
Ignacio Soto 
Salvador Higuera 
Alejo Moranda 
Nicolas Berreyesa 
Gabriel Moraga 
Francisco Bernal 
Apolinario Bernal 
Jose Altimirano 
Marcos Chaboya 
Marcelo Pinto 



Invalidos 

Corporal Gabriel Peralta 



Soldier Manuel Butron 



OCTOBER 15, 1795 2 

Noncommissioned Artillerymen Dispatched from Mexico to San Francisco 



Sergeant Jose Roca 

2nd Corporal Gregorio Martinez 



1st Corporal Francisco Argiielles 
2nd Corporal Jose Osorio 



1. Archives of California, LIV, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, 24-25. 

2. Ibid., VII, Provincial State Papers, 289. 



155 



Enlisted Artillerymen, Artificers, and Mechanics 



Rafael Lledo 
Mariano Brito 
Juan Zuniga 
Miguel Brito 
Francisco Monteverde 
Jose Pena 
Jose Medina 



Jose Alvarez 
Matias Guerrero 
Mariano Mercado 
Jose Sarco 
Juan Marine 
Jose Villasenor 
Jose Cano 



MAY 30, 1796 3 

Catalonian Volunteer Officers and Noncommissioned Officers 



Captain (Lieutenant Colonel) Pedro de Alberni 

Drummer Juan Tico 

1st Corporal Claudio Galindo 



Sergeant Joaquin Tico 

1st Corporal Francisco Rubio 

2nd Corporal Jose Miranda 



Catalonian Soldiers 

Jose Alari 
Manuel Martinez 
Jose Palafox 
Jose Murnato 
Miguel Mendoza 
Jose Acosta 
Jose Martinez 
Jose Gonzalez 
Jose Maria Serrano 
Benancio Ruelas 



Jose Barrinetos 
Diego Galvez 
Jose Gomez 
Juan Maldonado 
Alejo Gonzales 
Faustino Icequera 
Manuel de la Vega 
Juan Alvarez 
Jose Espinosa 
Manuel Mallen 



DECEMBER 31, 1798 4 

Presidio Company Officers and Noncommissioned Officers 



Brevet Captain Jose Arguello 
Sergeant Pedro Amador 
Corporal Manuel Boronda 
Corporal Pedro Peralta 



Ensign Manuel Rodriguez 
Corporal Luis Peralta 
Corporal Alejo Miranda 



3. Ibid., XVI, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 53-54. 

4. Ibid., XV, Provincial State Papers, 320-321. 

156 



Presidio Leather Jacket Soldiers 



Juan Bernal 
Nicolas Berreyesa 
Bartolo Pacheco 
Jose Aceves 
Juan Jose Higuera 
Jose Castillo 
Ignacio Alvisu (sic) 
Jose Sanchez 
Jose Higuera 
Jose Rosales 
Francisco Soto 
Francisco Gonzales 
Jose Galindo 
Juan Contreras 
Jose Franco 
Jose Maria Perez 



Salvador Higuera 
Francisco Bernal 
Joaquin Bernal 
Francisco Valencia 
Francisco Flores 
Ramon Linares 
Juan Garcia 
Venancio Galindo 
Bartolo Bojorques 
Jose Herrera 
Jose Escamilla 
Isidro Flores 
Francisco Bojorques 
Rafael Arrida 
Miguel Salazar 



Invalidos 

Ensign Ramon Lasso de la Vega 
Corporal Miguel Pacheco 



Corporal Gabriel Peralta 



Soldiers 

Ramon Bojorques 
Justo Altimirano 



Ignacio Linares 
Ignacio Soto 



DECEMBER 1, 1802 5 

Presidio Garrison and Invalidos Exclusive of Catalonians 



Brevet Captain Jose Arguello 
Cadet Jose Echavarria 
29 Leather Jacket Soldiers 



Ensign Luis Arguello 

1 Sergeant and 4 Corporals 

4 Artillerymen (1 Corporal and 3 Soldiers) 



Invalidos 

Ensign Ramon Lasso 

2 Corporals and 5 Soldiers 



Brevet Ensign Pedro Amador 



5. Ibid., XVI, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 160. 

157 



DECEMBER 31, 1806 6 

Presidio Garrison and Invalidos 

1 Lieutenant 

1 Cadet 

8 Corporals 

5 Artillerymen (1 Corporal and 4 Soldiers) 



1 Ensign 

2 Sergeants 
56 Soldiers 

11 Invalidos (1 Ensign, 1 Brevet Ensign, 
3 Corporals, and 6 Soldiers) 



DECEMBER 1, 1808 and DECEMBER 31, 1809 7 
Presidio Garrison and Invalidos 

1 Captain (absent) 
Ensign Gabriel Moraga 

2 Sergeants 
59 Soldiers 

9 Invalidos (1 Ensign, 1 Brevet Ensign, 
2 Corporals, and 5 Soldiers) 



Lieutenant Luis Argiiello 

1 Cadet 

8 Corporals 

5 Artillerymen (1 Sergeant and 4 Soldiers) 



DECEMBER 1, 1813 8 

Presidio Garrison and Invalidos 

1 Captain (absent) 

Ensign (Brevet Lieutenant) Gabriel Moraga 

2 Sergeants 
57 Soldiers 
13 Invalidos 



Lieutenant Luis Argiiello 

1 Cadet 

8 Corporals 

5 Artillerymen (Sergeant 2nd Class Manuel 

Gomez [Gomez also was a Brevet 

Ensign] and 4 Soldiers) 



DECEMBER 1, 1817 9 

Presidio Garrison and Invalidos 

1 Captain (vacant) 

Ensign (Brevet Lieutenant) Gabriel Moraga 



Lieutenant Luis Argiiello 
1 Cadet 



6. Ibid., XVI, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 322. 

7. Ibid., XVI, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 378 and XVI, 14. 

8. Ibid., XVII, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 177. 

9. Ibid., XVI, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 100. 



158 



2 Sergeants 
6 Corporals 

5 Artillerymen (1 Sergeant 2nd Class Manuel 
Gomez and 4 Soldiers) 

3 Corporals, and 6 Soldiers) 



2 Corporals with rank of Brevet Sergeants, 

57 Soldiers 

11 Invalidos (1 Ensign 

1 Brevet Ensign 



SEPTEMBER 1, 1818 10 

Presidio Garrison and Invalidos 

Captain Luis Argiiello 
Ensign Santiago Argiiello 
2 Sergeants 
56 Soldiers 

11 Invalidos (1 Ensign, 1 Brevet Ensign, 
3 Corporals and 6 Soldiers) 



Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga 

Cadet Jose Joaquin de Estudillo 

8 Corporals 

4 Artillerymen (Sergeant Second Class 
Manuel Gomez and 1 Soldier at 
Monterey and 2 Soldiers at the Castillo 
de San Joaquin), 



DECEMBER 1, 1819 11 

Presidio Garrison and Invalidos 

Captain Luis Argiiello 

Ensign Santiago Argiiello 

2 Sergeants 

57 Soldiers 

Gomez and 4 Soldiers) 

12 Invalidos 



Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga 

1 Cadet 

8 Corporals 

5 Artillerymen (Sublieutenant Manuel 



10. Ibid., LIV, Provincial State Papers, Sacramento, 111. 

11. Ibid., XVI, Provincial State Papers, Benicia Military, 294-295. 

159 



APPENDIX D 

NATIVE PLANT SPECIES IDENTIFIED AT THE PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO 
DURING THE SPANISH AND MEXICAN PERIODS OF OCCUPATION 1 



FAMILY 



SCIENTIFIC NAME 



COMMON NAME 



Arrow grass 


Trilochin maritima 


Arrow grass 


Bayberry 


Myrica calijornica 


California wax myrtle 


Borage 


Allocarya chorisiana 


Forget-me-not 


Buckthorn 


Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 


California lilac 




Rhamnus calijornica 


California coffeeberry 


Buckwheat 


Eriogonum latifolium 


Buckwheat 




Polygonum paronchia 


Sand joint weed 




Polygonum punctatum 


Water smartweed 




Rumex salicifolius 


Water-leafed dock 


Dogwood 


Cornus calijornica 


Creek dogwood 


Figwort 


Castilleja latifolia 


Indian paintbrush 




Diplacus aurantiacus 


Sticky monkey-flower 




Veronica americana 


Speedwell 


Four o'clock 


Abronia latifolia 


Yellow sand-verbena 


Frankenia 


Frankenia grandifolia 


Frankenia 


Hazel 


Corylus calijornica 


Hazelnut 


Honeysuckle 


honker a ledebourii 


Twinsberry 


Hornwort 


Ceratophyllum demersum 


Hornwort 


Mint 


Stachys ajugoides 


Hedge-nettle 




Stachys chamissonis 


Chamisso's hedge-nettle 




Satureja chamissonis 


Yerba buena 


Mustard 


Erysimum jranciscanum 


Wall-flower 


Najas 


Najas guadalupenis 


Water-plant 


Nightshade 


Solanum umbelliferum 


Nightshade 


Oak 


Quercas agrifolia 


Coast live oak 


Orobanche 


Orobanche calijornica 


California broomrape 


Parsley 


Hydrocotyle ranuculoides 


Marsh pennywort 


Pea 


Lupinus chamissonis 


Chamisso's sand-lupine 




Trifolium wormsskjoldii 


Cow clover 




Lotus scoparius 


Deerweed 




Vicia gigantea 


Giant vetch 




Lotus eriophorus 


Lotus 




Astragalus gambellianus 


Locoweed 




Lupinus arboreus 


Yellow bush-lupine 


Phlox 


Gilia chamissonis 


Chamisso gilia 




Navarretia squarrosa 


Skunkweed 


Pink 


Silene verecunda 


Silene 



1. Based upon Ida Geary, "Chammisso, Eschscholtz, and the Plants of the Presidio," VI Fremontia no. 4 (January 
1979): 3-9 and Alice Eastwood, "The Botanical Collections of Chamisso and Eschscholtz in California," IV Leaflets 
of Western Botany: 17-32. 



160 



Plantain 


Plantago maritima 


Seaside plantain 


Pondweed 


Potamogeton americanus 


Pondweed 


Poppy 


Eschsholtzia californica 


California poppy 


Rose 


Fragaria chiloensis 


Beach strawberry 




Rubus ursinus 


California blackberry 




Rosa californica 


California rose 




Rubus vitifolius 


Grape-leaf blackberry 




Potentilla californica 


Silverweed 




Photinia arbutifolia 


Toyon 




Fragaria californica 


Wood-strawberry 


Saxifrage 


Ribes malvaceum 


Wild currant 


Spurge 


Croton californicus 


Sand-croton 


St. John's wort 


Hypericum anagallodis 


Marsh-St. John's wort 


Sunflower 


Agoseris apargioides 


California dandelion 




Solidago californica 


California goldenrod 




Artemissia californica 


California sagebrush 




Ambrosia chamissonis 


Chamisso's beachbur 




Gnaphalium californicum 


Cudweed 




Gnaphalium chilense 


Cudweed (hybrid) 




Gnaphalium palustre 


Cudweed 




Baccharis pilularis 


Coyote-brush 




Artemisia pycnocephela 


Dune sagebrush 




Tanacetum camphoratum 


Dune-tansy 




Solidago elongata 


Golden-rod 




Solidago occidentalis 


Golden-rod 




Solidago spathulata 


Golden-rod 




Jaumea carnosa 


Jaumea 




Lessingia germanorum 


Lessingia 




Eriophyllum artemisiaefolium 


Lizard-leaf 




Haplopappus ericoides 


Mock-heather 




Anaphalis margaritacea 


Pearly-everlasting 




Baccharis douglassi 


Saltmarsh coyote-brush 




Erigeron glaucus 


Seaside daisy 




Grindelia maritima 


Seaside gumplant 




Helenium puberulum 


Sneezeweed 




Wyethia angustifolia 


Wyethia 




Achillea borealis 


Yarrow 


Violet 


Viola adunca 


Blue violet 


Waterleaf 


Phacelia californica 


California phacelia 




Phacelia malvaefolia 


Mallow-leafed phacelia 


Water-Milfoil 


Myriophyllum exalbescens 


Myriophyllum 



161 



GLOSSARY 

Adarga. Shield of two to three thicknesses of hide. 

Adobe. Brick made of dried mud or clay mixed with straw or other similar binding agent 
"fired" or dried by the sun, or a structure made of such material. 

Aguardiente. Brandy. 

Alcalde. A combination of mayor and justice of the peace. 

Alferez. Ensign; akin to a second lieutenant or sublieutenant. 

Almud. One-twelfth fenega. 

Alta California. Upper California; territory approximating the present state of California. 

Arroba. Weight of approximately 25 pounds. 

Asistencia. An outlying location visited from time to time by a missionary. 

Atole. Drink of ground, dried seeds, mixed with water and sweetened. 

Baluarte. Bastion or strongpoint on the corner of a fort or presidio to allow flanking fire along 
two adjacent walls. 

Botas. Leather leggings. 

Camino Real. Royal road; the coastal trail established by the Spanish in Alta California. 

CasfrV/o.Fortress; coastal defense battery. 

Cedula. Official certificate. 

Comandante. Commandant; commander. 

Comisionado. Military liaison between the presidio and towns. 

Criollo. Person of Spanish parentage born in North America. 

Cuartel. Barracks. 

Cuera. Literally "leather" but meaning the protective jerkin or 

sleeveless jacket of up to seven thicknesses of hide worn by lancers. The troops who wore 

these came to be called soldados de cuera (leather jacket soldiers). 

Culebrina. Culverin or a type of cannon that is very long in proportion to the size of its bore. 



163 



Distinguido. An enlisted man who was classified as "white" and thereby entitled to certain 
special privileges. 

Escolta. Detail of soldiers stationed at a mission. 

Escopeta.A short musket or carbine. 

Espada Ancha. Broadsword. 

Espano/.Spaniard; individual born in Spain. 

Fandango. Type of dance or dance festival. 

Fenega. Equivalent to about 1.6 bushels; varies regionally. 

Fijo. Term applied to a military unit raised and stationed permanently in the colonies. 

Gente de Razon. People of reason; in the context of California, the Spanish-speaking Christian 
population or any individual except a non-Christian Indian. 

Habilitado. Quartermaster. 

Invdlido.Retired military man. 

Laguna. Lake; large body of stagnant water; marsh. 

Lanza. Lance. 

League. On land 2.633 miles or 5,000 varas. 

League square. Area of 4,338.19 acres based on the early vara. 

Memorias. Annual supplies. 

Mestizo. Individual of mixed European and Indian parentage. 

Mila. Half of a league. 

Neophyte. Native American undergoing religious instruction at a mission. 

Ojo. Spring or water hole. 

Pa/gflda.One-thirty-sixth of a vara. 

Palizada. Palisade or stockade. 

Peninsular. Individual born on the Iberian Peninsula or the islands off the Iberian Peninsula; 
essentially interchangeable with Espanol. They enjoyed many privileges not afforded to 



164 



Spaniards born in the Americas, including access to all top government positions and high 
church offices. 

Peso. Basic monetary unit; the Spanish "dollar." 

Pie. Foot (actually 11 inches). 

Pinole. A gruel or porridge made from various seeds, acorns, maize or similar products. 
Poblador. Citizen or resident of a town or pueblo. 

Polvora. Gunpowder. 

Poza. Puddle; water hole; well; small body of stagnant water. 

Presidio. Outpost for soldiers responsible for a military district. 

Pueblo. Civilian or civil-military settlement. 

Rancheria. Indian village or settlement. 

Rancho. Ranch; grazing lands. 

Rancho del Rey. "King's ranch" or the official government grazing ranch for the presidio 
garrison. Called the Rancho de la Nation under the Mexican regime. 

Real. One-eighth of a peso. 

Reglamento. Regulation. 

Soldado. Soldier. 

Tule. A tall rush from flooded bottom lands. 

Vara. Measurement akin to a yard; 32.99 inches in Alta California but this varied from time 
and place. 

Yerba Buena. "Good herb," which is a kind of wild mint (Micromeria chamissonis); name later 
applied to the civilian pueblo that would serve as one of the key elements for the founding 
of San Francisco. 



165 



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Essig, E. O. "The Russian Settlement at Ft. Ross." XII California Historical Society Quarterly no. 
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Finke, Detmar H. "La Organisacion del Ejercito en Nueva Espana." XI Boletin del Archivo 
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Garr, Daniel J. "Power and Priorities: Church-State Boundary Disputes in Spanish-California," 
LVII California Historical Quarterly no.4 (Winter 1978-1979): 364-375. 

Geary, Ida. "Chamisso, Eschscholtz, and the Plants of the Presidio." VI Fremontia no. 4 
(January 1979): 3-9. 

Guest, Florian. "The Establishment of Villa Branciforte." XLI California Historical Quarterly no. 
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Kells, Robert. "The Spanish Inheritance: The Mexican Forces of Alta California, 1822-1846." XX 
Journal of the West no. 4 (October 1981): 12-19. 

Kirker, Harold. "California Architectural and Its Relationship to Contemporary Trends in 
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Ogden, Adele. "The Californias in Spain's Pacific Otter Trade, 1775-1795." I The Pacific 
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. "Russian Sea-Otter and Seal Hunting on the California Coast, 1803-1841." XII California 



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Pritchard, William E. "El Castillo De Monterey Frontline of Defense: Uncovering the Spanish 
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Schubert, Helen V. "The Men Who Met the Yankees in 1846." XIII California Historical Society 
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Stanger, Frank M. "A California Rancho Under Three Flags: A History of Rancho Buri Buri 
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Tays, George. "Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and Sonoma." XVI California Historical Society 
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179 



Unpublished 

Early, E. Eugene. "The Moragas in California ~ Father and Son." Unpublished MA Thesis, 
University of San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif., 1955. 

Ewing, Russell C. "The Founding of the Presidio of San Francisco, Registered Landmark #79." 
Unpublished MS, Works Progress Administration, 1936. Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, Calif. 

Hendry, G. W., and Bowman, J. N. "The Spanish and Mexican Adobes and Other Buildings 
in the Nine San Francisco Bay Counties, 1776 to about 1850." Vol. IX. Unpublished MS, 
1940. California State Library, Sacramento, Calif. 

Hernandez, Salome. "The U. S. Southwest: Female Participation in Official Spanish Settlement 
Expeditions: Specific Case Studies in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth 
Centuries." Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N. 
Mex., 1987. 

Jones, Frances Carey. "California in the Spanish American Wars of Independence: The 
Bouchard Invasion." Unpublished MA Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, Calif., 
1922. 

Jones, Oakah L. "The Spanish Occupation of Nootka Sound, 1790- 1795." Unpublished MA 
Thesis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla., 1960. 

Kinniard, Lawrence. "History of the Golden Gate and Its Headlands." Unpublished MS, 1962- 
1967. National Park Service, Western Regional Office, San Francisco, Calif. 

Knowles, William Howard. "The Presidio of San Francisco: photographs, drawings, sketches, 
prints, plans, and historical descriptive data bearing on the physical features of the 
buildings thereof as they appeared under the Spanish and Mexican Rule, 1776-1886." 
Historic American Buildings Survey, Unpublished MS, c. 1940. 

Lang, Kathryn M. "Golden Gate National Recreation Area: The Indian and Hispanic Heritage 
of a Modern Urban Park." Unpublished MS, February 1979, National Park Service 
Western Regional Office Library. National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation 
Area, Fort Mason, San Francisco, Calif. 

Langellier, John P. "Bastion By the Bay: A History of the Presidio of San Francisco, 1776-1906." 
Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kans., 1982. 

Rosen, Daniel B. "The History of the Presidio of San Francisco During the Spanish Period." 
Unpublished MA Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, Calif., 1957. 

Serridge, Agnes T. "Spanish, British, and French Activities in the Sea Otter Trade of the Far 
North Pacific, 1774-1790." Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, St. Louis University, St. Louis, 
Mo., 1954. 



180 



Staff, Ruth. "Settlement in Alta California Before 1880." Unpublished MA Thesis, University 
of California, Berkeley, Calif., 1931. 

Tays, George. "Castillo de San Joaquin: Registered Landmark #82." Unpublished Report for 
California Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks, 1936. Copy in Bancroft 
Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. 

Yeuel, D. P. "The Presidio Officer's Club: Oldest Building in San Francisco." Unpublished MS, 
Knowles Collection. Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco, Calif., n.d. 



181 





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